New Study Shows That Tourists Are Willing To Pay For A Total Ban On Trophy Hunting To Protect Wildlife In South Africa

A joint team of UK and South African researchers carried out a survey on public opinion toward trophy hunting. The survey involved 1,000 people from countries that most frequently visit South Africa, both from within the African continent and overseas. It indicated universally strong opposition to the killing of South Africa’s lions for sport and revealed a desire to finance the protection of the nation’s iconic wildlife through paying a ‘lion protection fee.’

The key findings of the research revealed that 84.2% of those surveyed stated that being asked to pay an inbound tourist ‘lion protection fee’ was a ‘good’ or ‘great’ idea. The highest support was from overseas with the UK, U.S., and many European Countries in favor at 92.3%. Those who live in Mozambique were in favor at 88.9%.

Daily fees could be set at around $3 USD for southern African tourists and $7 USD for overseas tourists without deterring a significant proportion of people. Alternatively, payments could be made in the form of one-off departure taxes of $6 to all foreign visitors leaving by land or sea and $33 to air passengers.

Both scenarios would generate funds at least equalling, but potentially exceeding, those currently generated by trophy hunting of all species in South Africa. It is estimated that $176.1 million USD is brought into the country from this cruel so-called “sport.”

These findings are potentially a game changer when it comes to protecting lions in South Africa, proving that there is a wildlife friendly alternative to trophy hunting, which tourists are prepared to fund.

They add weight to a previous survey conducted in 2022, which showed that public opinion is in favor of banning trophy hunting, with 84% of 10,090 people, including international tourists to South Africa, agreeing that the South African government should prioritize wildlife-friendly tourism over trophy hunting.

This comes as South Africa, and countries like the UK, continue to debate the legal status and future role of this cruel and controversial practice.

The study has key relevance to the ongoing public consultation on a “Draft Policy Position” relating to the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Elephant, Lion, Leopard, and Rhinoceros, which was recently shared by The Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) in South Africa.

This new finding has been shared with the South African Government with the aim to highlight the urgent need for them to prioritize and promote wildlife friendly activities. This initiative would ensure a more sustainable and ethical future for South Africa’s wildlife and its people.

“Growing public opposition to trophy hunting is completely understandable. For most people, the killing of African wildlife for ‘sport’ or to ‘save’ them is morally abhorrent,” said contributing researcher Dr. Neil D’Cruze from World Animal Protection. “Our study removes a huge and important question mark over whether and how funds generated by this controversial industry could be replaced.”

“International travelers both in and outside of Africa say they are willing to pay out of their own pockets to protect wildlife and livelihoods. This information has the potential to be a game changer in terms of gridlocked policy debates on this issue both in South Africa and beyond,” concluded Dr. Neil D’Cruze.

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