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The Pitfalls in Hunting Tourism: Could it Be an Unavoidable Menace We Have to Endure?

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Hunting tourism involves the tourist leaving his homestead and going to a place where consumptive and non-consumptive hunting is permitted for recreational purposes for a fee. Consumptive tourism hunting is pursuing and killing or injuring wild animals for the sake of gratification.

It may also involve eating the immolates or leaving them behind for scavengers to eat them. In consumptive tourism hunting, the hunters may take trophies for their collection or culling of excess wild animals could have motivated it. In Non-consumptive tourism hunting, no animal is killed, and the tourists feed their eyes with the presence of the wild animals taking photographs and videos.

Tourism hunting, irrespective of its sole intentions, attracts infrastructural investments. Infrastructural inputs raise environmental conservation issues that need solemn assessment. Infrastructural variables may lead to land degradation, pollution, interference with wild animals’ migratory routes, and threats posed to the livelihoods of indigenous communities.

While consumptive tourism may strike an average observer as less destructive, it poses significant risks if poorly managed. A long trail of activities is needed to make tourism hunting a more satisfying mission.

For example, one may need to build a hotel in a protected area, and carrying capacity issues are central to determining the efficacy of erecting such structures. Protected areas need management plans that guide building codes of what is environmentally acceptable and what is not.

Garages for car repair should be inside or outside the protected areas, and what are the ramifications of those decisions? Having hotels in the protected areas also raises mind-boggling questions about waste disposal and whether treatment plants should be included.

Types of road construction materials are another stressful issue to avoid road carnage and having shiny roads, which can be an eyesore or scraping the pristine landscaping, which can be a potentially attractive tourist site. Extraction of building materials such as murrum and aggregates may permanently destroy the spectacular landscape and hills that are natural heritages.

In a particular case of developing hotels to cater for hunting tourism, we see instances of waste disposal rearing up repeatedly. Solid waste is often buried underground, attracting indigenous people to scavenge for leftovers and transforming their lives from independent food seekers to dependents on solid waste.

Even wild animals and birds are often seen nit-picking whatever they can get from those solid waste pits. There have been efforts to place a door that discourages people, wild animals and birds from accessing the solid waste.

The Disposal of Liquid Waste Remains a Hot-Button Issue

In most cases, liquid waste is not treated and can trickle down to lower lands where water sources can be polluted, or wild animals get used to drinking it, causing health concerns. In the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, for instance, the deaths of flamingoes were credited to the human waste polluting the lake inside the Ngorongoro crater.

The waste waters provided food for certain types of algae and fungi whose plants the flamingoes were eating and poisoned their alimentary canals, leading to fatalities. Treatment of liquid waste to flush out human waste and other harmful chemicals has not yet been considered.

While non-consumptive tourism hunting may provoke grievances, it is tolerated because it generates income through jobs and markets for local produce. It looks like it is unwise to kill the goose that is laying us golden eggs. But the daggers are drawn out in the consumptive tourism hunting. We shall now examine the institutional, operational, legal framework and modus operandi behind consumptive tourism hunting.

In Tanzania, all legal authority lies with the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA). Their mission is to conserve and sustainably utilize wildlife resources in protected areas. TAWA collaborates with local communities and other national and international stakeholders for this. So that present and future generations of Tanzanians and the global community can benefit from it. These ambitious goals require plenty of cash to sustain them, and wonder income from consumptive tourism hunting is sought to beef up the coffers.

To execute its mission statement, consumptive and non-consumptive hunting tourism is permitted. But for this discussion, we shall confine ourselves to the former type of hunting tourism.

TAWA has a committee that deals with hunting blocks. They usually invite people to participate in electronic auctioning and allocating title hunting blocks. The process appears transparent, but a deeper look reveals that not all is right.

One thing is curiously repetitive: the past owners of the hunting blocks are often foreigners with local political connections. As a result, we rarely see horizontal or vertical movements in awarding hunting permits. The same hunting companies are often likely to retain their status quo ante after the auctioning decisions.

One of the concerns is how competitive the process is and whether the hunting fees are sufficient to add to our GDP and annual budgetary requirements or just a handful of us benefit, which is a question we shall attempt to answer.

Who Benefits from The Hunting Block Business?

Poring through the TAWA website, one is welcomed by one District Commissioner of Monduli who claimed his districtDistricttruggle without an annual income from TAWA and that even the Regional Commissioner had praised his district’s yearly revenue collection goals. Elsewhere on the website, we learn TAWA was bragging that through Makuyuni Wildlife Park, it would generate plenty of cash without specifics.

TAWA also reported on their websites that they constructed teachers’ two-in-one houses and unspecified classrooms and offices for Mangara school within Babati District. The intention was to show how TAWA was involved in community development activities for their neighbouring community, urging them to cooperate in fulfilling her mission statement.

In Government notice No. 93, published on 21st May 2021, The Wildlife Conservation Act (CAP. 283), we gather about TAWA regulations. Those regulations are designations of particular concession areas, GMP or General Management Plan, invitations, applications, and approvals of concession investment areas by the TAWA Board of Directors. After going through the TAWA regulations, the impression is that it’s a regulator more than the operator of the assigned activities.

The concessionaire must pay annual rental fees based on projected turnovers and profits. We all know where this leads to. The concessionaire is now the one who blows the pipe, and TAWA is dancing to that tune. Suspicion of underreporting annual turnovers and profits may not be a fishing expedition.

The local concessionaire, who is 100% owner of his hunting company, pays 50% of the rental fee. This is ambiguous. Why don’t foreign companies pay estimated rental payments from those annual turnovers and profits? Why not have a specific figure to be paid per annum that cannot be left to the arbitrariness of the computation based on financial data volunteered by the foreign concessionaires?

The foreign concessionaire is paid abroad, and small sums are brought to Tanzania to meet operational needs. TAWA will never know with certainty how much those companies are making, reducing the payment formula at the investor’s discretion! Accurate figures of how much, on average, a foreign concessionaire pays were not available when this article was being prepared.

We learnt from the regulations that TAWA revenues are constipated by concessionaire operational budgets transferred to their Tanzanian local accounts. Profits mean their native country’s taxes that have nothing to do with them have been paid. Even without a stern look at the TAWA balance sheets, we can portend very little cash is filling their pockets. We noted no efforts from TAWA to ensure clients of the international hunting companies paid directly to them.

Transfer of User Rights Can Only be Sanctioned by The Minister in Charge of Tourism and Natural Resources

TAWA’s investment prospectus in April 2020 has the following contents: In its executive summary, TAWA boasts of playing a pivotal role in developing our country through income generations without specifying in absolute terms that input translates into hard currency to the Treasury.

The prospectus mentions areas where various types of hunting tourism are permitted, and the process is to be observed when securing user rights and compensation schemes.

The Trending SAGA: Killing of The Biggest Crocodile

After video circulations of two whites, Josh Bowmar (32) and his wife Sarah (33), posing with a dead yawning crocodile, there has been an outrage overseas but not in Tanzania save for Netizens zealots who tend to kowtow at foreign sensibilities. Part of the explanation for why there is little concern about the plight of wild animals’ consumptive hunting is the news blackout.

Most Tanzanians depend on local news outlets to access information, and censorship is often available to deprive us of the information we need. Another explanation could be that most Tanzanians have bigger fish to fry than wrestle with the authorities. Struggling to make ends meet may be sufficient cause to overlook such infractions.

Controversial trophy hunters from the United States, known as Josh and Sarah Bowmar, recently claimed to have hunted and killed an enormous crocodile in Tanzania. In a video posted on social media, Josh Bowmar can be seen posing with the crocodile after the kill, proudly describing it as an enormous specimen. He even suggested that the crocodile might break world records for its size.

The couple posted several images and videos of their encounter with the crocodile, including one where the animal was transported by a vehicle before being displayed on a tree for photographs. Although the exact location of the hunt in Tanzania was not disclosed, it is legal to hunt crocodiles in Tanzania, typically in the Nyerere National Park (formerly the Selous Game Reserve).

The Bowmars had previously faced legal troubles in the United States for engaging in illegal game-hunting excursions. They were fined and ordered to pay substantial penalties for their activities, including a case involving the killing of a giant black bear with a homemade spear, which garnered significant media attention in 2016.

The Mirror was ordered to pay the equivalent of nearly TZS 350 million in fines, forfeits of items and restitution by a U.S. judge.

Do Our Neighbours Have Consumptive Tourism Hunting?

In Kenya, international consumptive tourism hunting has been banned since 2007. There has been local pressure to lift the ban, citing it was needless and neighbours in those wildlife areas would like to earn an income for themselves.

South Africa and Zimbabwe have international consumptive tourism hunting for reasons of generating income to support wildlife activities and community developmental goals but also culling of overpopulation of elephants to keep them in check.

According to one Emmanuel Koro article published by Helvetia’s digital publication on 05th January 2022, it was claimed that before the ban, Kenya used to charge a quarter of millions of U.S. dollars per international hunter. I could not independently verify the accuracy of that claim by the time I was preparing this article.

Sometime in September 2020, Rwanda legalized commercial tourism hunting. The law allows private firms to do wildlife businesses such as game ranching, sport hunting, and wildlife-based tourism, provided they meet all the requirements. The law also enabled Rwanda to protect some endangered animals, including the Big Five – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African buffalos.

Concluding Remarks and Recommendations

The legal framework that TAWA is operating has too many loopholes that entice bribes to underreport the income of the concessionaires. The user rates cannot be subject to how hunting companies are running their businesses and payment of foreign government taxes.

The user rates must be locally assessed based on past performance variables such as the number and types of wild animals killed and their market values. There is no need to differentiate between local and foreign concessionaires regarding user rates. Most of these local concessionaires tout foreign ties or are paws of international hunting companies, and this is an excuse for paying peanuts to the Government.

The auctioning system may aim to promote transparency and competition. Still, major hunting companies wonder whether those objectives would be met once one considers insider trading and conspiracy could corrupt the whole tendering process. Minimum rates based on the formula stated above are highly recommended.

TAWA’s mission statement ought to be translated into monetary terms. TAWA should indicate her aspirations to contribute what proportion of the GDP and annual government budgets. By afar, that kind of specificity will address the snags we have observed.

TAWA must spell out her human resources establishment to avoid over-staffing. Unless operational costs are dwarfed, a runaway budget could punctuate efforts to boost income generation. A prospectus that is silent on aims to rein upon a recurrent budget to less than 50% of annual income generated is not worth the ink written. What was glaring before the eye was a lack of money figures to support loftier intents in that prospectus.

TAWA should show what kinds of wild animals are categorized for culling to trim their populations. Such animals may be made available for local meat processing plants to add value to them before being sold in local and overseas markets.

We need more emphasis on establishing concessionary private game ranches that are commercially driven. Over-dependence on contemporary solutions limits the expansion of revenue collection efforts and eases pressure on the natural sanctuaries of the game reserves. The restoration of the dwindling rhinoceros populations may require bolstering this option.

Lastly, TAWA should estimate the carrying capacities of big animals, such as elephant hippos. Those benchmarks should be deployed in making culling decisions to ensure the consequences of overpopulation of wild animals are carefully controlled and managed.

Also, read Sustainable Tech Solutions for Wildlife Conservation in Tanzania.

The author is a Development Administration specialist in Tanzania with over 30 years of practical experience, and has been penning down a number of articles in local printing and digital newspapers for some time now.

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Hussein
Hussein
3 months ago

Hello with regards to this crocodile issue this crocodile which has been shot in Tanzania is not the biggest crocodile in the world or a world record. Rather this crocodile is the biggest in archery hunting. I believe you guys know there is two kinds of hunting: rifle and bow/archery hunting. You can find the story of this crocodile hunt in outdoorlife.com. Here is the link: https://www.outdoorlife.com/hunting/josh-bowmar-claims-world-record-crocodile/

In the article on this crocodile hunt in outdoorlife.com we can see it says bow/archery world record and not a world record or the biggest crocodile in the world.

The biggest crocodile in the world today is a saltwater crocodile which is called Cassius and which is in a zoo in
Queensland, Australia. Cassius is 18 ft and 1,300 kilograms (google.com). The crocodile shot by Sarah Bowmar in Tanzania is 16 ft and 3 inches long. Thus 2 feet shorter than Cassius of Australia and under the world record.

That’s all. I thought I share some insights on this controversy. I hope this clears the matter. The answers are in the web. Do some searching and you’ll get your answers. Have a good day.

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