Johannesburg - South African privately-owned wildlife farms may be overstating the animal populations in their care, weakening claims by industry organisations that they are contributing to conservation, according to a study by the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
There are about six million herbivores on private farms, far fewer than the 20 million often cited by groups including Wildlife Ranching South Africa and the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa.
The report was funded by the Development Bank of South Africa.
“It is impossible to assess the true extent of wildlife ranching in South Africa,” researchers led by EWT’s Andrew Taylor said in the report.
“This makes it difficult to determine the accuracy of many statements made by stakeholders in the industry, many of which, in our opinion, use inflated figures.”
EWT said “different methods of calculation” explained the discrepancy.
Hunters and ranchers who breed wild animals often cite the rapid growth in animal numbers since the 1960s as justification for their activities and argue that they play a role in biodiversity and conservation.
In addition to hunting those activities include game viewing and breeding animals for auctions.
Wouter van Hoven, an emeritus professor at the University of Pretoria whose research was the basis for the 20 million estimate cited by industry groups, said there were only about 575 000 large mammals in South Africa in the early 1960s.
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