‘Big money’ for SA in private game hunting – research


Local and international hunters collectively contribute R15.456 billion per year to the South African economy, a recent investigation into the private game hunting industry in the country has found.

The investigation also looks at hunter profiles, and found, among other things, that Limpopo, the North West, the Eastern Cape, the Free State and the Northern Cape are local as well as foreign hunters’ preferred hunting destinations.

This investigation was undertaken by the research unit for tourism research in economy, the environment and society (Trees) at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, under the leadership of prof. Peet van der Merwe and his team members, Andrea Saayman and Elmarie Slabbert.

The purpose of the research was to determine the socio-economic impact of the private wildlife industry in South Africa, with surveys carried out from June 2022 to August 2022.

Questionnaires were distributed online and elicited responses from 1,685 local hunters and 415 international hunters.

Hunter profiles

“As far as local hunters are concerned, 97% of the respondents were male, with an average age of 47, and 82% of them were married. They participated in an average of 2.7 hunts per year and stayed 4.16 nights at their preferred destination. Their preferred provincial destinations were, in order: Limpopo, North West, the Free State and the Northern Cape,” Van der Merwe said.

“The international hunter profile showed that 89% are male, with an average age of 57 years. A total of 81% are married and they have hunted in South Africa at least three times in the last ten years. Their preferred province was also Limpopo, followed by the Eastern Cape, the Free State and the Northern Cape.”

Research further indicates that South African hunters each had a total annual expenditure of R63 282. This figure includes accommodation, transport, food, the processing of the meat, hunting permits, money and the game hunted.

“With an estimated 200 000 local hunters, it can be deduced that they have contributed approximately R12.65 billion to the South African economy.

“As far as international hunters are concerned, not all their expenses take place within national borders. For example, there are international flights, shipping costs for trophies and the purchase of items such as clothing before they come to South Africa. However, by adjusting these figures and taking into account that other spending takes place before and after the tour, the amount per hunter per hunting tour that goes into our local coffers is R450 000.”

This means that local and international hunters collectively contribute R15.456 billion per year to South Africa’s economy.

Communities also benefit

In addition to the big money that private hunting means for the country, communities also benefit from this industry, according to Van der Merwe. This includes creating jobs for residents.

“More than 80% of the local hunters believe that hunting tourism generates more income for the communities involved, increases employment opportunities within the particular hunting area, increases the economy as well as the standard of living in the area, and that it helps to preserve cultural traditions for future generations .”

He further says that since Trees’ last comprehensive survey, private game industry has shown an increase of R1.81 billion, although the rand/dollar exchange rate and an increase in the cost of living have contributed to this figure.

“The private wildlife industry is not only an essential part of the country’s tourism offering, but also an integral part of our economy.

“Its value cannot be underestimated, and we must do everything we can to preserve, promote and develop it. As a tool for job creation and retention, we must take advantage of the many opportunities the industry has to offer.”