Big Game Hunting

Big Game Hunting

Uncontrolled, big game hunting is resurgent in Uganda. I believe big game hunting contributes to conservation if carefully controlled. Problem is, it’s not being controlled at all.

The only reason tourists first came to Africa was to hunt. One of the world’s greatest conservationist, Teddy Roosevelt, was a big game hunter.

That changed radically in the 1960s and 1970s, and as elephant poaching approached catastrophic levels, Uganda and Kenya banned hunting altogether.

That’s changing. The economic climate is so bad in East Africa, and growing elephant populations are so menacing, that both Kenya and Uganda are reconsidering their positions.

Reports surfaced today in Kampala that the Uganda Wildlife Authority was suppressing a completed report on a hunting experiment near Lake Mburo National Park in the southwest. The UWA commissioned the experiment eight years ago, and the presumption is the only reason the report is being suppressed is because it’s unfavorable to hunting.

And so hunting continues in that area, beyond the experiment’s end date, and with no report on how it went.

Worse, Uganda’s most prolific blogger, Wolfgang Thome, reported today that sitatunga, an endangered animal on CITES appendixes, is among the animals being advertised for hunting. Zambia, Cameroun and the Central African Republic also allow sitatunga hunting.

Click Here to read a report by South African businessman, Gavin Godfrey, who returned from a Ugandan sitatunga hunt in August operated by Lake Albert Safaris, a hunting company owned by South African hunter, Bruce Martin.

What’s interesting about this report is that it occurs outside the experimental zone presumably controlled by Ugandan authorities, on sequestered and little known islands in Lake Victoria. Moreover, the cost of the hunt is extraordinary, further underlining the stealth currently involved in Ugandan hunting.

Martin’s company normally concentrates in a gazetted experimental area at the north end of Lake Albert, and normally advertises for abundant game like kob.

Sitatunga is another matter. Sitatunga shouldn’t be hunted, and clearly the high cost will now attract the wealthy hunter around the world. It’s a lot easier to hunt in Uganda than in the jungles of Cameroun or CAR. The absence of the UWA report on hunting complicates the matter and further suggests graft at fairly high levels.

This is not how big game hunting should be managed by a responsible government.