End fantasy of the Great White Hunter

The claim that remote groups in Botswana have lost income and are at the mercy of wildlife due to the country's ban on hunting begs closer scrutiny ("Hunting ban saps village's livelihood"; Monday).

A study of predator-proof bomas (a type of enclosure) in Tanzania proves the efficacy of simple, cost-effective measures against threats to villagers and livestock.

The vibrancy of the wildlife of Sankuyo village in Botswana, as a destination for hunters before the ban, is not in doubt.

Are non-hunters now avoiding Sankuyo because of its prior "notoriety"? What has Sankuyo done to dispel its notoriety and attract eco-tourists?

Eco-tourism can work.Conservationists have described the transformation of one former hunting area, Selinda Reserve, as one that has flourishing wildlife, revenue growth of more than 1,000 per cent and employment - with skills transfer and training.

Eco-tourism is the largest employer in Botswana's north, conservationists say, employing 40 per cent of the working population.

In contrast, hunting contributes less than 0.27 per cent to the gross domestic product of countries that still allow it.

Even in pro-hunting Zimbabwe, a wildlife guide, who was familiar with Cecil the lion and the national park where it lived, calculated that at just one lodge, tourists collectively paid US$9,800 (S$13,700) a day to pose for photographs with Cecil.

This would have brought in more income in a week than the American dentist accused of killing Cecil for US$50,000 ("US dentist under fire for killing Zimbabwe's beloved lion"; July 30). The killing also means there is no hope of future revenue.

The Western view of Africa is still coloured by the romance of the Great White Hunter. So, it is no surprise that Americans, with their strong hunting culture, exploitAfrica's vulnerability by dangling conditional aid. But studies show 97 per cent of hunting fees are being siphoned off by the hunting industry and government officials, with only 3 per cent going to area and community development.

And, with hunters killing the biggest, best specimens of the species, disrupting natural selection, hunting for conservation is neither tenable nor sustainable.

While paying to hunt may seem like a generous gesture, no trophy hunter would be able to afford any hunting licence if the true opportunity costs were factored in.

It is time the world stopped pandering to this self-serving minority, and end the destructive fantasy of the Great White Hunter.

Goh Boon Choo (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2015, with the headline 'End fantasy of the Great White Hunter'. Print Edition | Subscribe