Gentle Giant Hunting Part of Tourist Safari Adventure : The World We Share

A new safari adventure is making waves with animal lovers all over the world and its not because it supports conservation of wildlife. Giraffe hunting is fast becoming the new ‘adventure’ and sportsmen are paying big bucks to kill one of these amazing creatures.

Giraffes are loved around the world for their gentle demeanor and they have graced the screens in children’s movies for years. Already fighting habitat loss, the population of these gentle giants are decreasing in leaps and bounds, and in some parts of the world, like Angola, Mali and Nigeria, they are already thought to be extinct.

In West Africa and the DR Congo, the population is scarce. The latest statistics show that the giraffe population is almost half of what it was back in 1988 – from 140,000 in the world to 80,000. The numbers have decreased so drastically that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List believes that giraffes may already need to be added to the list of threatened species.

But the numbers aren’t as devastating in some areas of the world, particularly in the areas where giraffe hunting is legal, such as Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In fact, the numbers are increasing in these areas, making it seem possible to sustainably hunt giraffe for sport.

“I’m not interested in hunting giraffe, but hunters obviously get a kick out of it like others enjoy a game of squash or cooking. It’s a complicated argument. There are a lot of factors,” stated Dr. Julian Fennessy, founder of the only giraffe conservation group in the world, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

“The loss of habitat and breaking up of populations by man-made constructions are the main factors threatening their numbers. In the countries where you can hunt legally, the populations are increasing, but across Africa, the overall numbers are dropping alarmingly. It shows that if properly managed with proper policy and controls, the hunting can be sustainable.”

What’s worse is the fact that the ‘hunters’ may be untrained or unskilled, leading to undue suffering of the animal if they aren’t killed quickly.

“The worst part of trophy hunting is the fact that hunters can miss their target and fail to kill the giraffe quickly,” stated Fennessy. “If they don’t hit the right spot, then it can lead to suffering for the animal. They might have a ‘second gun’ in the party whose job it is to take the animal down quickly if the tourist misses. But hunting guides need to assess the ability of the hunter and stop the hunt if they don’t have the skills to do it humanely.”

Think that’s bad? Wait until you hear how much people are paying to hunt these poor creatures!

Hunters pay up to £10,000 just to have the chance to hunt them. They then pay an additional £1,500 trophy fee, £1,000 tracker fee per day plus the cost of their flight, hotels and food. Most hunters are coming from North America and Europe and the total cost of their ‘expedition’ can easily reach the six figure mark.

But paid hunters aren’t the only danger, the only inhumanity to these beautiful creatures. Poachers are taking their swing at them too.

“Poaching is illegal and it is not licensed,” Dr. Fennessy stated. “They set wire snares at giraffe-height in the trees to snare their necks, or to trap their feet and kill them when they return. It leads to huge suffering for the animals, sometimes for days.”

I can’t imagine killing an animal, even for food. Granted, I know that survival is survival. But this isn’t survival. This is ‘sport.’ Which I cannot fathom or understand…and to bring your children along for the ride (which some families are)…I can’t even find words, and I’m a writer.