Wildlife poaching inside Africa’s National Parks is a growing problem, even in places where trophy hunting has been permitted on the boundaries for decades. Communities dependent on seasonal hunting jobs and rations of “game meat” still live well below the poverty line. In many cases trophy hunting is no longer strictly regulated or controlled, leading to the hunting of the biggest and fittest animals from prides and herds entering hunting concessions from the safety of protected parks. This means that trophy hunting is not sustainable in the future. It is not the best solution to protecting wildlife inside Africa’s national parks. Nor does it lift those communities living alongside national parks out of poverty and dependence.
Unfortunately photo tourism has not done enough to support communities in areas where trophy hunting has stopped. A percentage of tourism revenue should be going to those communities to enable them to set up human-wildlife conflicts (HWC) deterrents and establish eco ventures to provide steady incomes in exchange for helping to protect wildlife. Good land use planning is needed by governments to stop unsuitable land use in buffer zones surrounding national parks.
Pragmatic Alternatives to Trophy Hunting (PATH) has been established to recommend alternative solutions and sources of funding that could be considered to replace trophy hunting on the boundaries of African national parks and to help lift poor communities out of poverty.
PATH will explore long term solutions and identify sources of funding that would support communities living close to wildlife and address poaching and deforestation in Africa. A key factor would be the involvement of communities that could benefit from living with wildlife, thus forming protective buffer zones around national parks. Communities should also benefit from setting land aside to form safe migration corridors to enable natural dispersal of wildlife from one protected area to another. This would help reduce repeated incidents of HWC.
Instead of relying on seasonal hunting jobs and rations of “game meat”, the illegal trade of “bush meat” or deforestation for charcoal production, poor communities living close to wildlife areas could be lifted out of poverty with the support of governments and other agencies, becoming self-sufficient while protecting wildlife and wild eco systems. Initial funding and expert advice to prevent HWC by setting up eco-ventures to ensure a steady income will create long-term livelihoods and end reliance on poaching, charcoal production and seasonal trophy hunting jobs.
In many cases an initial “hand up” and expert advice is all that would be required to encourage environmentally-friendly farming methods, setting up eco ventures to establish steady, long term livelihoods, solving one of the main reasons for poaching - poverty. The other cause of poaching - the high demand for ivory, rhino horn and lion bones - needs to be solved urgently by ending the senseless demand. Communities should not be encouraged to farm wildlife for trade of their body parts. Encouraging such demand will only lead to increased poaching organised by powerful trafficking syndicates operating above the law. All demand for body parts of endangered and threatened species needs to be eliminated permanently to help end the poaching crisis threatening animal species across Africa.
PATH suggests alternative sources of funding to support poor communities, such as the creation of community-run conservancies and the establishment of various eco ventures. Funding sources could include a percentage of tourism revenue, government grants and low interest loans, international funding agencies, high-end safari operators, major foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs), local NGOs, big business, philanthropists, carbon credit schemes, regenerative safaris etc.
Protective community conservancies and various eco venture alternatives are urgently needed to reverse the damage in the many vacant hunting concessions where wildlife has been depleted and overgrazing of livestock is now a major environmental issue.
Many areas outside Africa’s national parks and reserves, where overgrazing and deforestation have caused environmental damage, also need urgent solutions to reverse the damage and avoid further damage in future. Holistic grazing methods, various community eco ventures and agroforestry are suggested as long-term solutions in those areas. Methods to reduce HWC between people and elephants include the use of effective electric fencing solutions, bee fences, chilli fences and chilli bricks as well as surrounding crops with vegetation not favoured by elephants (aromatic herbs, sunflowers, chillies etc) in areas used by elephants as migration routes.
Many examples of successful eco ventures, including HWC deterrents, community projects, environmentally-friendly farming methods, cash crops that limit human-elephant conflict, responsible NGO's and possible funding sources are posted on our page. Please feel free to visit our website and Facebook page for more information.