Namibia – Trophy Hunting

Banner: Photo by Hans Stieglitz via Wikimedia Commons

Previous Cecil’s Pride Article – “Namibia Rejects All Hunting Bans and Welcomes Hunters

Total Income” for ‘conservation’ fund, less than 2% of the “Total Trophy Hunting Income” – Related Article: “Trophy Hunting and ‘Conservation'” – Namibia, 16 March 2016

So, the Namibian Cabinet has announced via Information Minister, Tjekero Tweya, 3 March 2016, that the Namibian “Cabinet has approved Namibia’s position to reject calls by some international wildlife sympathisers and activists who have criticised the Namibian government for allowing the intentional hunting of animals such as rhinos.” – The Namibian, 4 March 2016


According to ‘American Hunter Karen Mehall Phillips writing in the Daily Caller, 9 March 2016 “Namibia Crushes Anti-Hunters by Banning all Hunting Bans”-

Chalk one up for common sense as the Namibian government got around worldwide anti-hunting extremists seeking to stop hunters’ critical conservation efforts—and, in turn, destroy the economic benefits hunters provide” – Karen Mehall Phillips, 9 March 2016

Well of course, there are no hunting bans that are enforceable from authorities outside of the range countries, so Karen’s chosen title for her article is misleading. There are potential restrictions on importing a given hunting trophy into Europe and the United States (based on proven target species sustainability). So not exactly a “Hunting Ban” is it?

So, let’s take a quick look at the Namibian Government’s track record on ‘conservation’ and “common sense” with regard to trophy hunting benefits:

1.Namibia failed to submit any formal National Lion Conservation Action Plan to the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)(3)  in 2015 – Namibia only has a “draft, not endorsed by Government” plan – So, not much reassurance there regarding ‘conservation’ of lions in Namibia:

“One of the more menacing aspects to Southern Africa’s predator industry—let’s not forget there are also operations in Zimbabwe and Namibia—is the way they’ve hijacked the conservation discussion, particularly around lions” – Ian Michler, Blood Lions – “The End of ‘Canned’ Lion Hunting May Be in Sight,” National Geographic, 11 March 2016

2. Rhino poaching – The IUCN reports a regrettable increase in rhino poaching in Namibia. So it doesn’t look like as much ‘income’ as required is being spent on rhino protection and conservation (further information is being sought):

 “…………alarming increases in poaching over the past year in other vitally important range states, such as Namibia and Zimbabwe.” – IUCN, 9 March 2016

3. Namibia’s Kunene Region is home to the rare Desert Elephant. In The Kunene Regional Ecological Assessment between October 2011 and April 2013, it counted just 86 elephants (in total) in the region during almost 500 hours of observation time in a 7,335 km vehicular game count survey. However, in 2014, Namibia issued a hunting quota for the killing of Kunene elephants regardless of any truly scientific based knowledge of the actual Kunene elephant population, but some estimate a population of only around 200 established in 2010.

4. Namibia’s Government authorities set the hunting quotas for hunting permits. The record for a permit sale was set at £224,000 ($350,000 USD) in 2014, Namibia, for the “right to hunt an endangered black rhinoceros” – the Dallas Safari Club (and the purchaser, Corey Knowlton) had the dubious distinction of holding that auction, the first such Namibian auction to be held outside of Namibia itself. The income (after auction deductions) presumably went straight into the Namibian government’s general coffers, so how much actually went into rhino conservation and where’s the proof?

 Apparently, “the rhino taken by Knowlton was an older, non-breeding male specifically selected because of its dangerous, aggressive behaviour. The bull would have been culled regardless of Knowlton’s hunt in order to prevent injury or death to the rest of the herd” – is the view of ‘American Hunter,’ writing in the Daily Caller, 9 March 2016. But of course the rhino was taken in the wild and the exact nature of the “harvest” only verified post-kill, so ‘American Hunter’s’ reasoning looks like the usual convenient excuse of “…the target was an old, male etc…

Dr. Teresa Telecky of Humane Society International explains that DSC’s “old, post-breeding bull” justification is not supported by science:

There is no scientific evidence that male rhinos ever become infertile, no matter how old they are.”

5. Of course, it can easily be argued that any ‘legal’ rhino trophy hunting or ‘farmed’ rhino horn harvesting just encourages poaching to also cash in, whether the rhino ‘hunting/farming’ is based in Namibia, South Africa etc.:

Rhino Hunting is Not Compatible With Conservation,” The Daily Maverick, 14 March 2016

6. From CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) data elephant Trophy Hunting in Namibia was in excess of the CITES approved quota of 180 tusks in both years: 108 tusks + 2 x 60 trophies ~ maximum of 228 tusks in 2012; 93 tusks + 2 x 52 trophies ~ maximum of 197 tusks in 2013.

7. With regard to cheetah and leopard hunting in Namibia, Blood Lions is very enlightening:

“In 2010 the country [Namibia] issued a hunting moratorium on big cats and placed the hunting industry under review.”

“It was reported that in some areas whole populations of leopard and cheetah were being wiped out. Hunting operators were running leopard and cheetah hunts with dogs, as well as canned hunts – in some cases canned hunts with dogs.”

“But the moratorium only remained in place for one hunting season. In 2011 Namibia in partnership with SCI launched a census “to manage the sustainability of the leopard population.”  A questionnaire was distributed to 1 500 farmers to assess the distribution and relative abundance of leopards throughout Namibia. There were only 400 replies. These, however, were extrapolated which produced a flawed national estimate of leopards of over 14 000.”

“Namibia has a CITES trophy hunted export quota of 250 leopards per year, a questionable figure, according to experts of the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), because it is based on “insufficient ecological information and lack of scientific data.””

“Unsurprisingly the pro-hunting census-takers recommended the quota “remain at the current level.””

“The USA will not allow imports of trophies of cheetahs as it has deemed that cheetah hunting is not conducive to the conservation of the species. Namibia together with SCI has repeatedly petitioned the USA to lift the ban but the country has declined each request.”

Cheetah Hunting in Namibia

8. At Table 1 (below), this is a work in-progress, trying to piece together the data that says any hunting quotas in Namibia are based on ‘science’ and known target population numbers, not just guess work – There is certainly a vivid array and description of animals to be killed in Namibia (buffalo, elephant, hippo, leopard, lion, cheetah, giraffe, caracal………) and the ‘need’ for “problem animals” to be hunted when they stray from protected areas:

Most of the free roaming lions left in Namibia are protected within the National Park boundaries but when they cross over into neighbouring tribal conservancies like the King Nehale conservancy which is situated directly on the northern border of the famous Etosha National Park they often become a problem when they start to prey on the locals cattle.

Hunters that are prepared to arrive on short notice (within 5 days) can experience a problem lion hunt for an extremely low price, often going home with a great trophy.”

Well, there is certainly common sense in ensuring that any hunting trophy import is sourced from a sustainable supply, not based on targeting an animal (lion) because it strayed (or was baited) from a national park to become a ‘problem’ to be eliminated by a paying hunter. For endangered species, this ‘proof’ is extended to ensure that  any Trophy Hunting of that species is proven to directly contribute to the conservation of that species (and provide that economic benefit to the wildlife and not the suspected benefit to the Namibian Government’s general coffers).

All that is being asked for is the proof to support the hunters’ claims. If the hunters’ claims are true, then what‘s the problem? This burden of proof definitely looks like common sense, and should be a policy everyone actually interested in real conservation (on both sides of the argument) should be able to “chalk up” and easily agree upon. If this annoys the hunters, then this tells us the trophy is more important that the claimed ‘conservation’ and/or that the proof of sustainability and the claimed ‘conservation’ is lacking.

References and Sources

  1. Namibia Crushes Anti-Hunters by Banning all Hunting Ban,” The Daily Caller, American Hunter, 9 March 2016
  2. Cabinet Rejects Wildlife Hunting Pressure,” The Namibian, 4 March 2016
  3. Review of Lions Conservation Strategies,” Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) working document by Hans Bauer, Kristin Nowell, Urs Breitenmoser, Mark Jones and Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, December 2015
  4. IUCN Reports Deepening Rhino Poaching Crisis in Africa,” IUCN, 9 March 2016
  5. Save the Rhino Trust (SRT), Namibia (non-Government Organisation (NGO)
  6. Elephant Lives Being Traded for Votes in Namibia,” Annamiticus, 2 June 2014
  7. Namibia Kunene Wildlife Conservation Project Reports, Round
  8. Questionable ‘Science’ Behind Controversial Rhino Hunt Auction,” Annamiticus, 18 January 2014
  9. CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) data


 Download Table PDF – Namibia_Table 1_15 March 2016_D01


Table 1 – Namibia Key Species Population and Hunting Quotas



    % Change


Current Government Guesstimate of Total Population EU Assess. (2015) approx. Expected Government Quota (2016/17) Possible Quota % of Remaining Population Notes Assessment
Lion 1993 est.(1)



2014 est.(1)











15 (2010)




(2008 – 2011)


1 lion per 2,000 km2

2% 3 pop. considered, 1 declined. Population too close to minimum 500 thresholds for sustainability?
Lion (Kunene) 2007 est.(4)





2010 est.(4)



? Reserve of 22,270 km2 Namibian elephants CITES Appx. II only


2010 est.(4)



2014 est.



1 (2014)(6) Reserve of 7,335 km2 Namibian elephants CITES Appx. II only
Elephant (Kaudum and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy) 2010 est.(4)


1,500 (50% est.)

? 180 (2015)(5) Namibian elephants CITES Appx. II only
White Rhino 2010 est.(1)



Black Rhino 2010 est.(1)



? 5 (2014) 2014 auction, $330k USD paid for a permit to hunt a Black rhino.
Cheetah 3,940(7) ? 150 (2015)(5)
Leopard Unknown 2011 est. 14,000(8) 250 (2015)(5)



  1. IUCN Red List Information
  2. The Kunene Ecological Assessment – “October 2011 and April 2013, just 86 elephants counted
  3. CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE)
  4. Wilderness Wildlife Trust
  5. Species+
  6. Elephant Lives Being Traded for Votes in Namibia,” Annamiticus, 2 June 2014
  7. IUCN Red List – Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) – The largest of these subpopulations supports an estimated 3,940 individuals, comprising the majority of the regional population, which is spread across a large transboundary landscape covering Botswana, Namibia, northern South Africa, south-western Zambia and south-western Mozambique
  8. Blood Lions – In 2011 Namibia in partnership with SCI launched a census “to manage the sustainability of the leopard population.”  A questionnaire was distributed to 1 500 farmers to assess the distribution and relative abundance of leopards throughout Namibia. There were only 400 replies. These, however, were extrapolated which produced a flawed national estimate of leopards of over 14 000.



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