Thursday, April 20, 2006

NEWS: Namibia: Trophy Hunting Leaps Ahead

New Era (Windhoek): April 19, 2006

Surihe Gaomas

Trophy hunting in Namibia is fast gaining momentum in communal conservancies as this lucrative market opens its gilt-edged doors to international hunters from as far as the United States, Europe and Russia.

As a result of this development, previously disadvantaged communities are reaping as much as N$4,5 million per year from this industry.

It further turns out that Namibia is the only country in Southern African that is involved in the training of locals on communal conservancies in operating trophy hunting for income generation.

This involves transforming former trackers to fully qualified hunting guides. Viewing this a potential of growth not only for the tourism industry in general, but for the country's economy, president of the Namibian Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA) Dannie Strauss informed New Era that trophy hunting has the potential to become a big money-spinner for Namibia.

"When a hunter comes to Namibia, he or she will spend 10 times more than an ordinary tourist," said Strauss, adding that growth has been consistent over the past 12 years.

With improved marketing strategies especially in the Unites States, the hunting association's goal has been to lure hunters from that part of the world in an effort to market Namibia globally.

For the past five years, NAPHA has been attending numerous hunting shows in the US to sensitise international hunters about the conducive hunting environment in Namibia's communal conservancies.

"It provides an unbelievable platform and the use of state-owned land can even create a bigger market for the country and previously disadvantaged communities."

The main clients come from Germany and Austria, but due to the growing awareness campaigns by the association, US, Russian, Hungarian, Czechoslovakian, Polish, French, Spanish and Italian hunters have also joined the trophy hunting fold.

In addition, with a general recovery of wildlife in the 44 conservancies countrywide, the latest statistics from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism indicate that an amount of N$27 million has been generated so far.

According to the ministry's Statistical Report of 2004, most of this income has been used for community projects such as water holes and facilities for children and pensioners.

The N$27 million comes from all genres of tourism, namely campsites, lodge partnerships, crafts as well as trophy hunting.

Based on the report, trophy hunting has even profited community-based tourism ventures from N$54 376 in 1999, N$734 375 in 2001 and rose to almost N$45 million in 2004.

In a drive to boost more local participation in this kind of tourism, NAPHA recently held a workshop on professional, effective and sustainable hunting that is to the benefit of communities and the environment at the same time.

Strauss added that that during the AGM held in February this year members were also informed about successful hunting ethics.

"We now have 91 fully qualified hunting guides from previously disadvantaged communities and our membership consists predominantly of this sector of society," he explained, adding that incentives are in place to train more Namibians in this growing field of tourism.

"Traditionally trophy hunting is primarily in the north, but this venture is even opening up in the southern part of the country now," he added.

For American hunters peak times are between April and June. In light of this NAPHA has been busy devising new marketing strategies to tap into this lucrative market.

The only challenge facing the association is the need to see hunting concessions being opened up in national parks again due to its economic advantages. According to Strauss, such a move is expected to take place next year.

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