South Africa’s wildlife and conservation success story is unparalleled anywhere in the world. The safari hunting industry played a pivotal role in this since day one and will continue to do so indefinitely! In 1964 we had approximately 575 000 wild game animals countrywide. During the 1960’s safari hunting and game ranching were mere fledglings in South Africa but the fact of the matter is that hunting started to place a value on wildlife and wild areas, creating a direct incentive to purchase, own, protect and conserve it. It had become a viable investment. As the safari hunting industry began to grow, and with it the demand for South Africa as a destination, more and more land was converted from agriculture to wildlife.
Today we can boast a wildlife population of close to 19 million head of game. Some species such as white rhino (of which there are currently more than 5 000 on private land), black wildebeest and bontebok, were brought back from the brink of extinction. Our sable and roan populations are again healthy and growing, and are mostly found on private land today. Species are constantly being re-introduced into areas where they had become locally extinct. There are currently more than 10 000 privately owned game ranches in South Africa, predominantly in marginal agricultural areas, covering an estimated 20,5 million hectares of land. To put it into perspective: private enterprise owns three times more land, managed under hugely successful and effective conservation programmes, than all the state-owned parks and reserves combined.
The wildlife industry as a whole, which includes professional hunting, contributes approximately R8 billion to South Africa’s economy each year. This is more than the income derived from sugar cane, dairy and many other major agricultural commodities, and we believe that this figure is understated.
Today we have more international hunting tourists travelling to South Africa each year than any other country on the continent. The South African conservation success story is based on the sound principle of “sustainable utilisation”, of which “responsible hunting” forms a major part. A simple comparison is Kenya, a country that has lost 85% of its wildlife since terminating all hunting in the late 1970’s.