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April 24, 2007

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Discussion Topic: Can Hunting Save Kenya’s Wildlife?

Kenya’s wildlife numbers have dwindled by at least two-thirds in the last 30 years. Now a government committee’s recommendation to lift the ban on hunting--which they say would promote better wildlife management and bring in big money that could be put into conservation—is stirring debate.

From the Daily News:

Tempers have flared, and one Kenyan journalist recently protested at the idea of Arab royals and rich Americans, "bored by ordinary living", blasting away at big game while children in rags look on from the doorways of mud huts. . . .

Supporters of hunting include not only ranchers and sports hunters themselves, but also some veteran conservationists who have worked in the country for decades. . . .

Well-funded foreign animal welfare groups, mostly based in the United States, have muddied the debate, and even "subverted democracy", in Kenya, says [Mike Norton-Griffiths, an expert on the economics of wildlife management].

These groups seem determined to make sure hunting never returns, apparently regardless of whether this leads to further falls in wildlife numbers or continued rural poverty, he says.

What do you think?


Kristine Shreve

Has anyone ever done a study comparing the health and populations of animals in countries that allow some sort of hunting with those that don't? It would be an interesting thing to see.


the countries around Kenya all allow big game hunting. their animal populations are thriving because the animals have economic viability. kenya has tried to utilize its animals strictly for ecotourism (photo safaris) with a much lower success level. games licenses along with export and trophy fees generate revenue. guides, bearers, trackers, all add to the economy. people just taking photos require much less service levels.

Brian M.

Would there have been any incentive to restore the wild turkey if was not considered a viable game bird? The same thing SHOULD happen in Kenya. How many other animals were brought back from the brink in America because hunters supported the effort. Wood Duck, Pronghorn, etc.


Kenya is suffering from significant poaching. It is also struggling with civil wars in bordering nations, and the incursion of refugees and armed warlords into their north. Some regions have overpopulated elephants, and other regions where most elephants are gone. Apart from the parks where ecotourists visit, there is little funding to manage the impact of wildlife in the rapidly overpopulating more agricultural parts of the country.

Hunting is one very strong incentive to support wild species in a place that otherwise would consider them vermin. Africa's wild species are simply a jewel -- something precious to the rest of mankind over the planet. Hunting fees have been seen to support wildlife in surrounding nations.

BUT -- there's a proviso: the country has to be stable enough, and disciplined enough not to kill the golden goose with creeping corruption. Zimbabwe's troubles make that clear: regions where hunting lands have been transferred to Mugabe's cronies have lost their wildlife. And Zim is not earning so much $'s to support that wildlife, either.

Unfortunately, Kenya's wildlife leadership has tried for many years to introduce hunting following the more modern African model -- but it is still too politically hot... now in a country facing the instability of their northern neighbors...


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