Legal Hunters Are Not a Threat
Legal hunters are not endangering elephants. Legal safari hunters hunt in only a few countries where elephants are not endangered. Most importantly, according to the United Nations, legal safari hunters kill less than 1% of the elephants killed (“Elephants”).
Legal Hunters Help Stop Poachers
All Iowa farmers know the best way to protect their fields from a slew of deer hunters is to allow one deer hunter to hunt on the land. The chosen hunter will then protect the land from other hunters, including driving his truck around as much as possible, asking the neighbors to alert him when there are trespassers, and turning in trespassers. This same concept works in Africa. When the legal elephant hunters are present, the illegal ones are less present.
In addition, Tanzania’s government depends on safari hunting companies to support its game scouts. The government assigns one game scout to each safari hunter. This game scout goes everywhere the hunter goes, meaning he stays in camp with him, rides on the hunting vehicle with him, and follows him through the bush. One of the game scouts’ duties is to make sure the hunter keeps his quotas, but the game scouts are also watching out for poachers, apprehending them and turning them in. Thanks to the safari hunters, the government can disperse its game scouts throughout vast elephant areas.
The government’s special anti-poaching teams are also dependent on the hunting safari companies, but in a different way. Although the anti-poaching teams have their own vehicles, they still rely on the safari companies’ infrastructure. For example, the safari companies maintain the dirt roads. Without the safari companies, the anti-poachers would have endless trouble with fallen trees and seasonal flooding. The safari companies also dig and maintain wells and secure and deliver food, fuel, tools and spare parts. Without the safari companies, the government would need to build independent supply lines for all these necessities, something that takes time, money and know-how. Even then, when something breaks down, such as a truck engine or a well pump, the government men rely on the hunters to fix it. Although the anti-poaching teams are becoming more sophisticated, they simply do not have the connections or expertise that the hunters have.
Professional safari guides and their teams also give the anti-poachers on-the-job training. For instance, they teach them how to follow tracks and plan approaches. Of utmost importance is the fact that hunters carry medical supplies. When an anti-poacher catches malaria, it is often the nearest professional hunter or his client who supplies the medicine that gets the man back to work and possibly saves his life.
Equally as important, the hunting companies give the anti-poaching teams cash bonuses for catching poachers. In fact, when one anti-poaching team catches a poacher, the hunting companies give all the anti-poaching teams a bonus. This practice has cut down on the instances where game scouts turn into poachers, and it has helped create a united, determined game department.
In short, although it is easy to say that safari hunters kill elephants, people who have been in the Tanzanian bush know that the safari hunting companies provide massive, necessary support to the government men who save elephants.
Legal Hunting Puts Money Into the Economy
In 2016 an elephant hunt in Tanzania costs around $145,000. This includes airfare to and from Dar-es-Salaam; the small charter plane to and from the hunting territory; payment to the safari company; beverages while in camp; tips for the professional hunter, the hunting team and the camp staff; consumable hunting equipment; and hotel, food and taxis before and after the hunt. Note that a good amount of this money goes into paychecks and tips for everyday Tanzanian people.
An even bigger portion of the $145,000 goes to the Tanzanian government. In sum, an individual elephant hunter pays the Tanzanian government about $45,000 per hunt. This includes the visa to enter the country, fees to import ammunition, a daily fee for each hunter, a daily fee for each observer, a trophy fee for each animal shot, and export fees for any trophies the hunter wants to take home. The fees for one elephant depend on the size of the tusks; they are usually around $20,000. Using these numbers, at fifty successful elephant hunts per year, the government makes about $2.5 million per year just from individual elephant hunters.
Interestingly, individual hunters are a small part of the Tanzanian government’s hunting income. The Tanzanian government makes most of its money off the hunting industry by charging the hunting companies fees to lease particular hunting blocks. In 2013 the Tanzanian government made about $50 million from hunting, most of which came from hunting block fees (Ihucha).
The hunting industry also supports the Tanzanian economy because the hunting companies hire hundreds of Tanzanian people to work as chefs, servers, skinners, trackers, drivers, porters, housekeepers, guards, mechanics, builders, electricians, plumbers and excavators. Hunting companies also benefit the economy through the purchase of food, vehicles, fuel, uniforms, tools and other goods, and by using service businesses such as insurance companies, hotels, restaurants, cooking schools, auto repair shops and so on. This money is important in the fight against poaching because it keeps the local people from feeling the need to become poachers or help poachers.
This game scout sits in the front seat while the legal safari hunter and his professional guide sit on the raised bench in the back.
Safari hunting companies break through the bush to create roads. This road was made along an ancient elephant path. Game scouts rely on safari hunting companies to maintain roads.
Anti-poaching teams often set up camp in unused safari camps because there are thick fences to ward off predators and paved floors to protect against snakes and mud.
Game scouts are not allowed to kill animals and eat the meat; they must live on the grains they bring into the bush and whatever fruit they can find. They are grateful when the legal safari hunters share the meat from the animals they kill; this is one of the mainstays of their diet.
When legal hunters come across poachers' campsites, they often slash the tents, tires and blocks of ice. They also dump out water, food and fuel. Although this is illegal, and nobody talks about it, it is one of the main deterrents to poaching.
Legal hunters often give the meat from the animals they shoot to the local people. A hunter shot this buffalo near a village school. These are the school children who were nearby. That day, they each child took some meat home to his or her family.
Even in the most remote areas, when the children go to their village school, they wear their best clothes. Legal hunters often bring clothes and shoes for the children. The boy in the orange blanket is wearing traditional garb because he does not have any school clothes.
The Tanzanian government is supposed to maintain two wells for each remote village, one for the humans and one for the livestock. When the well pumps stop working, the men from the legal hunting companies often buy the parts when they are in the city, bring them back on their next hunt, and make the repairs.
Professional hunting teams help game scouts with all sorts of problems, especially in the Selous Game Reserve, where there are no other humans for hundreds of miles.