As African nations and conservationists struggle to stop elephant poaching, a counter-intuitive idea is gaining a lot of ground: The best way to save elephants might be to hunt them.
Chinese demand for ivory is fueling illegal elephant hunting throughout Africa, despite widespread conservation efforts. Kenya is the hardest hit, with the number of elephants killed doubling from 2011 to 2012. But some countries in southern Africa take a seemingly radical approach: The government allows legal hunting, and elephant numbers are steadily rising there.
“There are sufficient numbers in some populations for regulated hunting to be sustainable,” said Rob Slotow, a professor a director of the Amarula Elephant Research Programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
Legally hunting elephants is expensive. And ivory from these African hunting safaris can be legally brought into the United States. A fourteen day expedition with Chifuti Hunting Safaris charges over $20,000 for the trip itself, plus a trophy fee for each animal taken, including over $14,000 for a bull elephant. On top of that, hunters pay trophy packaging rates, government fees and for a CITES export permit that certifies the trophies were legally obtained.
This is where in some cases, some say hunting might help.