From Pro Safaris Africa
The rain season is prime poaching season and although everyone is doing there best, the odds are stacked against those of us fighting this fight.
Yesterday there was another contact in the Zambezi valley, 19 tusks recovered and 4 poachers escaped! That’s 10 elephant slaughtered in the past week. I’ve just attended a hunting show in Toronto Canada where anti-Hunter’s had a demonstration outside and due to this the Press was there. I took 2 TV and 1 radio interview but unfortunately our facts were not broadcast. Only the emotionally motivated view of a 18yr old that organized the demonstration. So here is the hard reality.
Anti-poaching is funded solely by the hunting operator. Donations are minimal as the public starts to get donor fatigue and the reality is Hunter’s expect the operator to do this out of funds paid for his/her safari. Very few Hunter’s will donate significantly over and above their safari fee. Non Hunter’s and Anti’s donate even less if not at all. Their donations are spent on legislation changes!
In Zimbabwe Elephant quotas are set at 0.5% of population. Meaning 0.5% harvested Elephant must pay for the protection of the other 99.5%. This is simply not possible as Poaching is never ending. So we operators make sure all animals contribute to the anti-poaching fund. Most animal off take is set at around 2% -2.5% . So 2% helps protect the other 98%. This includes Lion. Lion is by far our highest priced animal and contributes significantly the most to this fund. However USFWS has now suspended the importation of Lion hunted legally and sustainability, from Zimbabwe into the USA. Following the suspension on Elephant in 2014. This taking away all funds for the protection of our elephants and other animals.
A poacher can cover 100,000 acres at his leisure. We would need to employ 50 people to cut that 100,000 acres into 2000acre sectors in order to be able to find him. A costly exercise.
A poacher is indiscriminate. He kills 100% if he could. He kills males, females or caves. Anything with a tusk. He kills those without tusks in order to not follow that track ever again. He cuts out the tusk and leaves the rest only to find the next pray. He is relentless and needs little funding. Only an incentive.
Yet the the incentive to protect these animals is attacked by the very people that claim to want to protect the Elephant.
The anti-Hunter’s, the “Stop Trophy hunting” groups, airlines banning transportation of legally hunted animals and now the USFWS.
This is tiring and demoralizing. At the end of the day, the animals and our Elephant MUST survive, but no-one will sacrifice the well being of his own family for the African elephant. Operators can not continue to fund anti poaching out of their own pockets as the funds and incentives continue to dwindle. At some point he/she will give up and that point has been brought forward by some bad decisions.
I ask those of you who took the time to read this, to help where you can, do what you can and most importantly, educate where you can.