Trophy hunting, particularly in Africa, has been a hotly debated topic for decades. But things are not always as clear-cut as many people would like to see them. In South Africa alone, trophy hunting contributes a total of $426 million to the GDP, according to Southwick Associates. While the value of regulated trophy hunting in conservation efforts may be overstated, it creates jobs and uplifts the continent’s economy as a whole. Not to mention that wildlife has significant negative impacts to African communities, a fact that some conservationists conveniently ignore. Trophy hunters essentially perform the tasks of exterminators voluntarily, and the African people profit from it. As long as these hunters are given proper guidance, animal populations will be in no danger of diminishing significantly.
Get to know the land and your quarry
Though you might be an experienced hunter, it pays to do as much research as you can about the area you’ll be operating in. Some of your prior expertise and instincts might not translate well in this new landscape. Things that could feel wrong to you might actually be normal if you ask any local. Gather all the info you can from the internet about what it’s like to traverse the African bush or jungle. Whenever you get the opportunity, ask locals questions about what it’s like out there, and what you should look out for. Even locals’ hunting trips can go awry at the slightest slip-up. Collect stories from seasoned hunters both local and foreign about what goes on in the wilderness, and how best to survive. You might hear a few tall tales, but any info you can validate would be invaluable.
You should also read up as much as you can on the game you’re hunting. The stomping grounds of some species might happen to cross into dangerous territory, home to either animal you didn’t plan on encountering, or unfriendly humans. Or, you might confuse your quarry with another species. This is especially troublesome if what you shot turns out to be protected by conservation laws. For example, there is a certain zebra species, called Grevy’s Zebra, that coexist with common plains zebras in some areas. These animals are protected by law, so it helps that you can tell one from the other before taking the shot.
Kit yourself out properly
Hunting big games elsewhere can be very straightforward once you get used to it. Not so with the African game. Veteran hunters report that African wildlife can be much hardier than your average quarry, and can be especially dangerous if you don’t manage to put them down quickly enough. For this reason, shot placement and lethality is paramount. It’s not so much about caliber as it is about firepower and precision. That’s why a lot of hunters favor semi-automatics such as the AR-15. Such versatile guns are lighter, support several attachments, and allow for rapid corrections when you miss. But perhaps more importantly, semi-automatic rifles let you dump a massive amount of fire at your quarry when it decides to charge at you. With the right optics and attachments like laser sights, you can maximize your rifle’s lethality and see better at night, saving you some frustration and better equipping you against the dangers of wild game.
Most African governments recommend that you keep your weapons license, Med-evac insurance documents, and letter of invitation with you on your hunt, as well as your passport. As for clothing, your main priority is camouflage, so look up pictures of what the area looks like at the time of year you’ll be visiting. Pack layers as it can get particularly chilly at night. Bring a poncho or synthetic fast-drying clothes if you’re going to the rainforests. If you go to a laundromat, let them know which clothes are synthetic fast-drying, as ironing can ruin them. Know that it is common for clothing to get torn up in Africa’s wilds, so pack durable clothes and don’t wear anything you don’t want destroyed.
The revival of the trophy hunting industry can be a powerful stepping stone in helping Africa’s economy get back on track. As long as hunters mind themselves and their guidelines, this can be a profitable experience for all parties involved.