The World Bank recently endorsed hunting as an important financing tool for governments working on sustainable wildlife management. Hunting is especially effective when programs are properly regulated and revenues are distributed to communities. With recent land-use changes and expansion of agriculture, the potential for hunting to contribute to conservation is increasingly important. This is why the World Bank approved a $40 million grant to Mozambique to fund conservation efforts; including strengthening the country’s hunting programs.
Several studies support these principles and demonstrate the impacts sportsmen and women have on conservation efforts around the world. Trophy Hunters’ Willingness to Pay for Wildlife Conservation and Community Benefits (Fischer et al. 2015), investigated the conditions under which hunting could facilitate wildlife conservation in Ethiopia. Hunting generates about $1.3 to $2.3 million a year for local communities and it plays a substantial role in rural economies adjacent to Ethiopia’s Controlled Hunting Areas (CHAs). That amount could increase to $4 million if existing hunting quotas were fully utilized.
The study showed that hunters are willing to pay substantial premiums for trips to areas with high biodiversity of wild animals and for arrangements that offered benefits sharing. For every 10% of their overall hunting fees redistributed to local communities, survey participants, on average, are willing to pay an additional $3900. They are also willing to pay for trips to areas with a lot of wildlife, as opposed to landscapes dominated by livestock.
In an earlier report, The Potential of Trophy Hunting to Create Incentives For Wildlife Conservation In Africa Where Alternative Wildlife-Based Land Uses May Not Be Viable (Lindsey et al. 2006), researchers found that 86% of surveyed hunters preferred to hunt where they knew that local residents would receive a share of the proceeds. Hunters also expressed a readiness to choose hunting packages that would directly or indirectly facilitate wildlife conservation. This affirms that the potential of hunting to support conservation efforts is quite substantial.
Both of these surveys imply that hunters expressly value the outcomes of conservation activities, and they are willing to pay for them. Sportsmen and women actively support benefit sharing models because they have a deep appreciation for the land and communities involved in the hunt. Hunters want to give back.
A well regulated hunting industry provides locals an incentive to protect wildlife populations and their habitat, as well as a stimulus for rural economies. The generated revenue from hunting encourages the creation of protected areas and provides incentives to conserve wildlife and wild places. Though emotional anti-hunting arguments seek to undermine the contributions of hunters, studies such as these showcase the hunter’s willingness to fund wildlife management and provide support that sportsmen and women are true conservationists.