Safari 2014: The Caprvi Strip / Update 03/3/2014

by david on March 3, 2014

First off, my get-in-shape plan for the hunt is going well.  I managed 30 minutes of exercise each morning.  The routine consist of cardio on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and weights on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  The diet is going well also.  I am down four pounds this week.  This is perfect for my goal of 10 pounds a month for the next six months.  Let’s hope it keeps going well.  I normally run into a brick wall somewhere after losing about 25 pounds and have problems losing more weight. 

I have been asked what I am going to hunt this year.  I had planned on waiting a while to fill in that blank as I know it is going to cause some angst and lots of discussion.  After some consideration, I have changed my mind and will go ahead and tell you, and use the discussion for educational purposes.  Number one in the list this year is an “own use” elephant.  An “own use” hunt is not a trophy hunt; in fact, I will not get to keep any part of the elephant.  All I will get to keep are pictures and the memory of the hunt.  What exactly is an own use elephant, you ask?  I’ll do my best to explain it.

If there are plenty of elephants in a particular conservancy, some of them may be designated “own use” by government officials and game managers.  “Own use” simply means the conservancy gets them for their own use.  The elephant I will shoot goes to feed the local villages, orphanages, and schools.  The hide and ivory (if any) will go to the local conservancy to be used as they see fit.  Part of the fees (an own use hunt is much, much less than a trophy hunt) will go to the conservancy for infrastructure, or some similar use.  This is a win-win situation for all involved (except perhaps for the elephant I take) and everyone benefits, including the local elephant population.

How can the elephants benefit from being hunted?  There are two main ways they will benefit; the first is it gives all elephants a cash value.  This cash value affords them some level of protection on two fronts.  The local villages, while not happy if the elephants do some crop damage, will tolerate it since they will get some on the cash generated by the hunt and all of the meat from the elephant.  Those same reasons are incentives for the locals to report poaching.  If a poacher kills an animal, it does the local population no good at all. 

The second way the elephants benefit is if the population is kept at a certain level the food supply will stay fairly constant.  In Botswana, there is an overpopulation of elephants.  The latest figures I have seen place the elephant population at 150,000+.  This would normally be great, but food supply in Botswana can only support only about 60,000.  Elephants are already pouring over the border from Botswana into Namibia’s Caprivi Strip by the thousands.  If the population is not kept in check by man, Mother Nature will do it herself.  Her methods, while efficient, translate into a slow death by starvation. 

I personally think the “own use” method of population control is much better.  This will most likely be my one and only elephant hunt as I do not see myself on a trophy elephant hunt anytime in the near future.  That being said if it will help maintain a healthy elephant population for future generations to come, I may very well hunt “own use” elephants again.   


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