“The game farms, game ranching industry and the hunting industry in South Africa are growing. Right now we have about 20 million hectares in private land ownership that are considered to be game farms,” Hermann Meyeridricks, president of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa told CNBC Africa in an interview.
According to research conducted by the University of the North West, the country’s hunting industry generated about 6.7 billion rand in 2012, while over 9,000 foreign hunters visited South Africa and spent about 140,000 rand per hunt.
With the number of game farms in South Africa currently standing at 10,000 as well as the increasing game prices and demand, Meyeridricks believes that the hunting industry in the country is very healthy at this stage.
“You can see that it [the hunting industry] is growing in the growing game prices, the growing demand and the growing number of hunters visiting South Africa so the industry is healthy and doing well,” he added.
He further explained that the sustainable trophy hunting of animals such as elephants and rhino also contributes to the conservation of them.
“We have to look at managing elephants in a sensible and economically sustainable manner and trophy hunting certainly is. It has a low impact, as you take out selected bulls that are past their breeding time and the money generated by that is considerable,” explained Meyeridricks.
With the high numbers of illegal rhino poaching, the hunting industry receives vast criticisms worldwide. However, Meyeridricks believes that the trading of white rhino horns should be made legal as a means to resolve the problem of illegal poaching and trade on the black market.
“What we’re doing at the moment is simply not working. You can take out the foot soldiers and they are replaced with more foot soldiers so we need to find ways of striking at a high level to stop the poaching,” he said.
“The demand far outstrips the supply, we need to find a way of saturating or feeding that supply. There is a strong drive to have the trade in rhino horn, which is illegal at the moment, to have that legalised.”
The trophy hunting of white rhinos, he added, is also a significant contributor to rhino conservation.
“We do believe the sustainable trophy hunting of rhino contributes to rhino conservation. If it wasn’t for the trophy hunting of rhinos, we wouldn’t have the numbers that we have today. We have close to 19,000 white rhinos in South Africa at the moment, of which 5,500 is in private ownership,” he added.