When King Juan Carlos paid an estimated $60,000 to kill an elephant in Botswana, it caused a major political scandal.

[NOTE: Due to copyrights, the full film will be removed on May 31.]

The recent shooting of Cecil of the Lion provoked headlines all over the world. But despite the global outrage, hundreds of Westerners come to South Africa every year to hunt and kill wild animals. We interview Neil Greenwood from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). He’s the Regional Director for Southern Africa.

Tourism brings in big revenue for South Africa. Since the mid-1900s, wildlife has been a major attraction for many visitors from abroad. Safari tourism usually takes the form of  “photographic safaris” which are game watching safaris in national parks, private game reserves and protected areas where no hunting of wildlife is allowed and there is minimum disruption of wildlife. But thousands of tourists are paying to kill. Hunting is legally permitted in South Africa and “hunting safaris” are held on hunting concessions scattered throughout South Africa. But some of these hunts may take place in “protected areas bordering national or provincial parks,” according to Neil Greenwood. 

Greenwood explains that South Africa practices a “Sustainable Use Policy, as have many SADC countries, which allow for the consumption of wildlife resources including hunting.” There are a number of different legal hunting practices. "Meat or pot hunting” allows animals to be hunted for the supply of venison. Trophy hunting is also permitted through a quota system and attracts mostly foreign hunters from Europe and North America. Greenwood says most hunts take place on-site with the products of the hunt shipped: “South Africa is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which allows for international trade in certain species and their parts, therefore all CITES listed species or their products are required to be permitted by the respective government’s conservation authorities for export and import.” 

On 2 May 2021, a high level panel of experts recommended that the South African government puts in place policies for an immediate halt to the sale of captive lion derivatives, the hunting of captive bred lions and tourist interactions with captive lions, including “volun-tourism" and “cub petting”.The government admits that these practices damage South Africa’s conservation and tourism reputation. While what the government refers to as the  “authentic” wild hunting industry will continue, Greenwood feels that “ending captive breeding and canned hunting of lions is a big step in the right direction to hopefully address hunting.” 

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