Zambian Communities Halt Trophy Hunting in Dispute Over Fees

(file photo)
18 September 2019
Conservation Action

"It is our land. We are the custodians." - Felix Shanungu, President of the Zambia National Community Resources
Board (ZNCRB).

The Community Resources Boards (CRB) in Zambia on Thursday released a press
statement expressing their deep concern over the fact that the communities
have not been given their share of either concession fees or hunting
revenue.

They have withdrawn their signatures to all the hunting permits in their
areas and have refused to sign any others. This will stop any trophy hunting
in the future unless the government comes to the table with money in hand.

According to Felix Shanungo, the communities have received no concession
fees since 2016 and no hunting revenue since last year. By law, the
communities are owed 20% of the concession fees and 50% of the hunting
revenue. The chiefs who run the communities are owed a 5% share of both.

This news follows the halting of a controversial hunt of 1 200 hippo in
Zambia earlier this year.

While the press release states that they will stop all hunting going
forward, Mr. Shanungo advised that hunts already underway will be allowed to
be completed but that all new hunts will be stopped. The CRB has been in
talks with the hunting companies to warn them about this and to get them to
put pressure on the Zambian government. He added that the communities do not
want to penalise the hunting companies who have paid but want the pressure
to galvanise government into action.

He said that it will be impossible for the communities to continue
patrolling and protecting against poaching as people have not been paid
their salaries in months.

The communities have two demands: To allow the hunting operators to pay the
CRBs their share directly and that the concession fees must be re-negotiated
for a higher share.

Various hunting outfits claim that trophy hunting brings USD200 million into
the sub-Saharan Africa economy. This figure was published in the academic
journal Biological Conservation and is often used to defend hunting,
a claim hotly contested by conservationists who contend that less than 3% of hunting revenues actually
go to communities. The same paper claimed that this figure was accumulated
by 18 500 hunters. In comparison, a World Bank report estimated that close
to 33.8 million people visit the region (mainly for wildlife tourism) and
contribute USD36 billion. Most tourists who come to visit for the wildlife
do not realise that hunting is allowed in these countries; it is believed
that Africa's reputation will suffer if this fact was more widely known.

The wildlife areas in Zambia are divided into the National Parks (where no
hunting is allowed) and game management areas (GMA) which act as a buffer
between the parks, farmlands and private hunting reserves. Legally, there
has to be revenue sharing from hunting and concession fees with the
communities in the GMAs - this is called Community Based Natural Resources
Management (CBNRM). In order to ensure the money is delivered and managed,
several CRBs were created.

With growing concerns over biological collapse in the time of the sixth mass
extinction, it is only a matter of time before global pressure phases out
hunting all together. It seems better for the countries in question to
determine their own phasing out process. This will allow them to focus on
community based eco-tourism where revenue can go directly to communities,
and to expand the tourism sector versus allowing the killing of some of the
most spectacular treasures we have on this planet.

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