Trophy hunters may continue to advertise on social media – for now. Industry suggests several remedies
Following a meeting with the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon Pohamba Shifeta earlier this week, the Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) reported on Wednesday that the social media advertising ban of trophy animals, has temporarily been suspended.
Association president, Ms Danene van der Westhuyzen said a meeting has been set for 27 July at Heja Lodge where members of the hunting fraternity can participate in a constructive and pro-active discussion to lay down rules for ethical advertising. Anti-hunting lobby groups exploit the ordinary public by using the pictures of animals killed by hunters, as propaganda against the trade. This was the motivation for the minister to announce the ban in the first place.
Trophy hunting as a specialist form of tourism, is an extremely important generator of revenue for local conservancies. Part of the fare paid by a visiting hunter goes to the local communities on whose land the game is hunted and part of the money goes to conservation. The communities also benefit from harvesting the meat as this is not taken by the hunter. In 2016 alone, trophy hunting generated some N$143 million for local communities living in conservancies.
On Wednesday, after the meeting with the minister, van der Westhuyzen said “We are happy to announce that we have returned from a very constructive and positive meeting with the Minister and his office. Other stakeholders that attended were NACSO (Namibian Association of Community Based CBNRM Support Organisations), NNF (Namibia Nature Foundation) and WRN (Wildlife Ranching Namibia).”
She confirmed that the advertising ban has been lifted with the proviso that the hunting industry must revert with proposed guidelines for ethical marketing of trophy hunting.
A day earlier, in a letter to the minister to clarify the points of discussion, NAPHA committed to guide its members to ethical advertising, avoiding any action by the ministry in future, to safeguard the hunting industry.
“NAPHA’s Code of Conduct clearly states our intent to secure the industry for current and future generations, as well as to ensure sound and ethical social, business, hunting and environmental practices at all times. With the age of social media, no clear guidelines regarding this type of marketing has been provided by either the ministry or NAPHA as of yet, and therefore we have to respect each persons view on what responsible marketing is,” the association wrote.
NAPHA suggests that clear advertising guidelines are drafted in collaboration with the ministry, that the official stance of the ministry on hunting is captured in a single document, and that a specific regulatory obligation is laid on hunting professionals to acquaint themselves with the official point of view, and to enforce this in all forms of online marketing including social media advertising.
Once the content of such a paper has been agreed, the association has committed to have a printed version distributed at all points of entry for international visitors, and through the ministry’s offices. Finally, NAPHA also promised its support to help establish a statutory body to regulate the hunting industry.