“Yesterday, today and tomorrow” is the theme here at this years’ PHASA Convention and Annual General Meeting that officially kicked off this morning, and there was lots of good news and exciting new opportunities discussed in addition to the ongoing challenges we face as hunters–all hunters. Guest speaker Ms. Mmatšatši Ramawela, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, explained how “PHASA has a special place” with her umbrella organization that represents the business interests of operators in the local and travel industry. She coined the phrase “hunting tourism” while here, and shared some impressive statistics that deserve notice.
In South Africa, hunting accounts for 9.8% of the country’s GDP and 10.3% of total employment. Think about that employment number for a second–10.3%. To put that into perspective, fill any typical movie theater and the person on each end of EVERY ROW is employed in South Africa’s hunting industry.
That significance was further recognized by Dr.Moscow Marumo, Chief Director Biodiversity/Economy and Sustainable Use for South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs who explained that South Africa’s government had “woken up” to a “renewable-use economy” and that “hunting is at the center of that.” It is through the tireless effort and great work of organizations such
as PHASA that the government here sees the importance of hunting and the value of sustainable use.
As many of you know, SCI recently gave PHASA grant money for a public relation campaign to ensure hunting is and remains seen in a positive light. Today we heard from Jean du Plessis of du Plessis Associates, which is the public relations firm PHASA has hired to lead this PR effort. Mr. du Plessis gave a concise presentation that positively nailed all of the issues squarely on the mark and then went on to describe a comprehensive three-year plan compete with obtainable goals and objectives. PHASA appears to have made an excellent PR firm selection and we are excited and anxious to see how it unfolds.
Unfortunately, not all the news on this first day was good. Last year there were more than 800 rhinos poached in South Africa alone, and those are just the rhino we know of–there are certainly many poached rhinos that are never found. Jeremy Anderson from WESSA (Wildlife Environment Society of South Africa) reported on its program to combat rhino poaching in South Africa. WESSA has provided information that has lead to the arrest of more than 20 people involved in poaching, and Anderson shared the results of their 2013 SWOT analysis. One of the threats that must be addressed is that the price of rhino horn continues to rise. We must increase
the sustainable value of rhino in communities so that the long-term value of rhino is seen as more than the short-term value of its horn in grams. If we don’t, the possibility of CITES re-listing the white rhino exists. One of the more alarming threats Anderson shared is donor fatigue. Don’t be that person who tires of fighting for the rhino and gives up. It is too magnificent an animal to let the poachers win, and that is why PHASA has given R200,000 over the past two years to help support WESSA. Tomorrow we are scheduled to hear more about the rhino crisis and see the results from a hunter survey that asked about the benefits and advantages of hunting in South Africa. Stay tuned, I will continue to try and bring you as much information as I can from PHASA as it happens.–Craig Kauffman