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SA hunting: big money, big controversy

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 02:11

Hunting for sport is big business in South Africa pumping billions of rand into the country's economy. Sonia Legg reports on the controversial practice that draws both praise and criticism from conservationists.

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++++EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: REFEEDING CORRECT VERSION OF SCRIPT++++ Big game has been attracting visitors to Africa for decades. But now there's a new focus. Hunting not watching is the roaring business. SOUNDBITE (English) GAME FARMER STAN BURGER SAYING: "We found a herd, a bachelor herd of Impala males. and we....the wind was fortunate in our favour and we managed to get the hunter onto the sticks and he shot a very good shot, a clean, broke the Impala spine, put him down with one shot." Stan Burger is a game farmer in South Africa. He invites trophy hunters to use land for sport and thousands are coming every year - the bulk of them - 15,000 - from the U.S. The industry employs an estimated 100,000 workers and is a big earner. In 2013 foreign huntsmen spent more than $91 million in South Africa, a third up on the previous year. Last year the industry was said to be worth $765 million. Lions, leopards and elephants are all targets, along with rhinos, buffalos and implala. 5,700 impala were shot in 2013 with lions bringing in the highest revenue at almost $10 million. Adri Kitshoff is Chief Executive of the Professional Hunters' Association. SOUNDBITE (English) CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE PROFESSIONAL HUNTERS ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA (PHASA), ADRI KITSHOFF, SAYING: "It's an economic contribution of about R10 billion. And then you look at the wildlife industry with more than 10,000 game farms , it's a huge contribution to our GDP." South Africa's game population has grown to 24 million from around 600,000 in the late 1960s. Much of that down to private owners - many of whom breed the animals for hunting. But there's a strong anti-hunting lobby. Linda Park is Director of the Campaign Against Canned Hunting. It recently held a protest against the sport. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR FOR CAMPAIGN AGAINST CANNED HUNTING (CACH), LINDA PARK, SAYING: "People around the world have all said 'enough'. Australia actually banned the importation of lion trophy permits and body parts." The U.S. could in fact be next - it's looking at making lions an endangered species, meaning hunters won't be able to bring them home. That's a big attraction for many - and could put a stop to the rise of a controversial but lucrative sport.

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SA hunting: big money, big controversy

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 02:11