Trophy Hunting and ‘Conservation’

Stephen Wiggins Article 8 Comments

Banner: Photo by Hans Stieglitz via Wikimedia Commons

In the past week or so, we have had some horrific numbers on poaching and the trade in trafficked animals parts, but also at the start of the month, the Namibian Cabinet announced via Information Minister, Tjekero Tweya, 3 March 2016, that the Namibian:

Cabinet has approved Namibia’s position to reject calls by some international wildlife sympathisers and activists who have criticised the Namibian government for allowing the intentional hunting of animals such as rhinos” – The Namibian, 4 March 2016

Namibian Cabinet

The idea behind this analysis is to actually look at the financial numbers (currently available) to show how much the Namibian Government directly earns from hunting (excluding general business tax income from hunting operators and hotels etc.). Then, from this direct hunting income, how the Namibian Government distributes the ‘conservation’ funds to help wildlife.

Does that ‘conservation’ income and funding ‘balance’ against the wildlife lives lost to hunting?

Game Products Trust Fund (GPTF)(6)

Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism started a Game Products Trust Fund (GPTF) back in the late 90s. The aim of the GPTF is described as follows:

The objectives of the Fund are stipulated in Section 3 of the Game Products Trust Fund Act No. 7 of 1997, as follows:

(a) to make grants to emerging conservancies and wildlife councils for the purposes of implementing and maintaining projects and programmes, approved by the Board in consultation with the Minister, regarding wildlife conservation and management and rural development;

(b) to allocate funds, subject to the provisions of this Act, to conservancies, wildlife councils and protected areas, and to persons, organisations and institutions approved by the Minister, to be used by those conservancies, wildlife councils, protected areas, persons, organisations and institutions in connection with projects and programmes regarding wildlife conservation and management and rural development;

(c) to support measures aimed at improving the relationship between people and wildlife; and

(d) to support improvements in the monitoring, management, protection, sustainable use and development of wildlife resources in rural areas.

Conservation enterprises apply to the GPTF for funding. The GPTF is open and accessible to all conservation projects, but of course there are certain rules and regulations that need to be adhered to. It is important to note is that the GPTF does not simply hand out cash, but rather supports conservation initiatives with specified needs such as specific equipment and installation for example. So, conservation enterprises still rely on donations as the main support for their efforts.

The Namibian Auditor-General only has reports for years ending 2012(6) to refer to online to gauge the income that is derived from Trophy Hunting in Namibia. The last report ending March 2012 indicates that the GPTF had “Total Equity and Liabilities of credit N$ 52.395m” (or £2.32m, $3.3m USD). This GPTF fund earns interest (at some 4% reported in 2012) equating to an interest income of N$2,138,258 (or £94,083 GBP, $134,282 USD) per annum.

Lindsey et al. 2007(8) estimated that Namibia hosts some 5,300 hunting clients per annum, “harvesting” 22,400 animals (an average of 4.22 animals killed per hunting client). This brings in a total estimated income of $28m USD(8) per annum (including all spend in country such as hunting operator fees, hotels, transports etc.). So that equates to an estimated $5,283 (£3,670 GBP) income per hunter and/or $1,250 USD (£876 GBP) per animal killed.

However, if we look at financial year 2011/2012/2013(6)(7) – Table 3, the actual Namibian income directly attributable to hunting can be derived as N$ 9,142,339 (or £404,263 GBP, $621,680 USD). Of course, there is the ‘tourist income’ of hotels and travel etc., but the actual stand-alone hunting income does not look that significant in isolation.

Furthermore, not all of that 2012 GPTF income (N$ 9,142,339) was spent – Expenditure on ‘conservation’ was only N$ 6,266,107 (£275,709 GBP, $390,229 USD) in 2011/12.

So, this actual Expenditure equates to around £52 ($73.6 USD) per hunter, or £12.31 ($17.42 USD) per animal killed (at the 2007 estimate of 5,300 hunters per annum and 22,400 animals killed per annum).

In 2014, Namibia auctioned the “right to hunt 5 endangered black rhinoceros.” Namibia has the largest population of Black rhinoceros in Africa, with Namibia holding some 1,750, but that is the proportion of a world-wide population of just 5,042 and 5,455 rhinos (IUCN 2015 estimates and rising rhinoceros poaching taking species numbers). The 2014 auction was held by the Dallas Safari Club, with the right to just one permit sold, purchased by Corey Knowlton for £224,000 ($350,000 USD). So, until the 2014 ‘accounts’ are released by the Auditor-General, Namibia it is unknown how much of the income from that rhino’s death went into the GPTF fund (perhaps) and directly worked for conservation.

The claim has been, that “the rhino taken by Knowlton was an older, non-breeding male specifically selected because of its dangerous, aggressive behaviour. The bull would have been culled regardless of Knowlton’s hunt in order to prevent injury or death to the rest of the herd” – is the view of ‘American Hunter,’ writing in the Daily Caller, 9 March 2016. But of course the rhino was taken in the wild and the exact nature of the “harvest” only verified post-kill, so ‘American Hunter’s’ reasoning looks like the usual convenient excuse post-kill of “…the target was an old, male etc…

Dr. Teresa Telecky of Humane Society International explains that DSC’s “old, post-breeding bull” justification is not supported by science:

There is no scientific evidence that male rhinos ever become infertile, no matter how old they are.”

Of course, this excuse does not necessarily apply to the other four Black rhino hunting permits offered in 2014 does it? What about the CITES quota for  5 Namibian Black rhino in 2015?

Table 1 – Game Products Trust Fund (GPTF) March 2011 – 2012(6)

N$ £ GBP $ USD
Trophy Hunting Concessions (leased habitat) 7,468,221 328,602 469,004
Trophy Hunting 110,000 4,840 6,908
Interest Received 2,138,258 94,083 134,282
Grant* 228,173 10,040 14,329
Total Income (GPTF) 10,067,922 442,988 632,265


Table 2 – Hunting Income – MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND TOURISM (MET) FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2013, Section 7.3 Revenue Extracts(7)

N$ £ GBP $ USD
Registration of Professional Hunters 165,050 7,262 10,365
Registration of Culling Teams 17,000 748 1,067
Wildlife Registration and Licences 272,475 11,989 18,528
Wildlife Utilization Permits 758,150 33,358 51,554
Total Income (MET) 1,212,675 53,357 81,514

Note: This MET hunting income is held by the MET, but perhaps provides grants* across to top-up the GPTF Conservation fund, or perhaps it just goes into general Government coffers? 

Table 3 – GPTF + MET Hunting income(6)(7)

N$ £ GBP $ USD
Total Income (GPTF less interest + MET) 9,142,339 402,263 621,680
Total Income (GPTF + MET) 11,280,597 496,345 713,779


The estimated (2014) Namibian total income for Trophy Hunting and general tourism are given at Table 4, with total Trophy Hunting Revenue equating to just 6.3% of Tourism Revenue.

Table 4 – Trophy Hunting, Tourism Income and Population (2014 estimates)(1)(2)



Trophy Hunting Revenue(2) (b)

($m USD)



($m USD)

Trophy Hunting Revenue as % of Tourism Revenue
Namibia 2.1 32.8 517 6.3%

(a) Based on US Census numbers (2009)

(b) All figures converted to 2011 $ USD

(c) UNWETO (2012)


Note 1   – It is not clear in the context used if ‘Trophy Hunting’ includes, or excludes ‘Canned Hunting.’

Note 2 – It is not clear how Governments set their permitted hunt quotas – It is not often scientific and is suspected to be corruption (reference (1), para4.2, iii) many cases, Government revenue appears the  main driver.


Hunting in Namibia

There is a vast array of wildlife on offer to the hunter in Namibia – buffalo, elephant, hippo, leopard, lion, cheetah, giraffe, caracal, warthog, Gemsbok kudu, baboon, blesbok, crocodile, Damara dik-dik, duiker, eland, hyena, impala, jackal, klipspringer, lechwe, oryx, ostrich, Red hartebeest, roan, springbok, waterbuck, wildebeest and zebra (plus anything else that moves I suspect).

Let’s look at some key species and Namibia’s approach (also summarised at Appendix I, Table 1):

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus ) – CITES Appendix I – Namibian “reservation” – The IUCN estimated that there are less than 7,500 cheetahs left in the wild – estimates of 2,500 in Namibia (2007). Despite its CITES Appendix I listing, Namibia has been allowed a quota of 150 cheetahs annually since 1992.

Despite the existence of this ‘legal’ trade, illegal trade may also still pose a threat to the cheetah – there is organized trade from Namibia and Botswana into South Africa – cheetahs have been moved from South Africa to Namibia for trophy hunting purposes – The Namibian Cheetah: Status Report,” Marker et. al

The total known Cheetah population is therefore very provisionally estimated at around 6,674 adults and independent adolescents. Thus the population is extremely unlikely to exceed 10,000 mature individuals, meeting the criteria for Vulnerable

The largest of these subpopulations supports an estimated 3,940 individuals, comprising the majority of the regional population, which is spread across a large transboundary landscape covering Botswana, Namibia, northern South Africa, south-western Zambia and south-western Mozambique” – IUCN Red List

Leopard (Panthera pardus) – CITES Appendix I – “There are no reliable continent-wide estimates of population size in Africa” – but with trophy hunting quota in 2015 for Namibia: 250.

“In 2010 Namibia issued a hunting moratorium on big cats and placed the hunting industry under review. It was reported that in some areas whole populations of leopard and cheetah were being wiped out. Hunting operators were running leopard and cheetah hunts with dogs, as well as canned hunts – in some cases canned hunts with dogs. But the moratorium only remained in place for one hunting season.”

“In 2011 Namibia, in partnership with Safari Club International (SCI), launched a census “to manage the sustainability of the leopard population.” A questionnaire was distributed to 1,500 farmers to assess the distribution and relative abundance of leopards throughout Namibia. There were only 400 replies. These, however, were extrapolated, which produced a flawed national estimate of leopards of over 14,000.”

“Namibia has a CITES trophy hunted export quota of 250 leopards per year, a questionable figure, according to experts of the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), because it is based on “insufficient ecological information and lack of scientific data.””

“Unsurprisingly the pro-hunting census-takers recommended the quota “remain at the current level.””

“The USA will not allow imports of trophies of cheetahs as it has deemed that cheetah hunting is not conducive to the conservation of the species. Namibia together with SCI has repeatedly petitioned the USA to lift the ban but the country has declined each request” – Africa Geographic and News 24

Wild African elephant (Loxodonta Africana) – CITES Appendix I listed, but with only CITES Appendix II listing in Namibia with a 2015 hunting quota of 180 tusks (90 elephants). This quota was exceed by Namibia in 2012 and 2013 – From CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) data elephant Trophy Hunting in Namibia was in excess of the CITES approved quota of 180 tusks in both years: 108 tusks + 2 x 60 trophies ~ maximum of 228 tusks in 2012; 93 tusks + 2 x 52 trophies ~ maximum of 197 tusks in 2013.

The total African elephant population is estimated at less than 500,000 – Elephants increasingly poached for Ivory and species sub-populations in unsustainable decline.

Namibia has a number of elephant sub-populations.

Namibia’s Kunene Region is home to the rare Desert Elephant. In The Kunene Regional Ecological Assessment between October 2011 and April 2013, it counted just 86 elephants (in total) in the region during almost 500 hours of observation time in a 7,335 km vehicular game count survey. However, in 2014, Namibia issued a hunting quota for the killing of Kunene elephants regardless of any truly scientific based knowledge of the actual Kunene elephant population, but some estimate a population of only around 200 (established in 2010).

The Estosha region holds an elephant population of perhaps 600, the Kaudum and Nyae Nyae conservancies, a population estimated at 1,500 (50%).

Wild African lion (Panthera leo) – CITES Appendix II listed at the moment, with potential ‘uplist’ to CITES Appendix I this year – Total wild population estimated by IUCN at 20,000, or less.

Namibia has an estimated (2014) lion population of 725, with an expected hunting quota of 15 lions per annum, with an average “off-take” of 14.0 3.2 (2008 – 2011), so an “off-take” of around 2%. It’s not clear if Namibia imposes any age/sex restrictions of lions that can be hunted in compliance with recommendations.

Namibia failed to submit any formal National Lion Conservation Action Plan to the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)(9) in 2015 – Namibia only has a “draft, not endorsed by Government” plan.

One of the more menacing aspects to Southern Africa’s predator industry—let’s not forget there are also operations in Zimbabwe and Namibia—is the way they’ve hijacked the conservation discussion, particularly around lions” – Ian Michler, Blood Lions – “The End of ‘Canned’ Lion Hunting May Be in Sight” – National Geographic, 11 March 2016

A leading Namibian ‘hunting outfitter’ seems to suggest on their website that once a lion strays (or is encouraged to stray perhaps with bait?) from a protected reserve then it’s immediately a “problem” to be eradicated by the willing, paying hunter – This ‘approach’ is not likely to help conserve the lion species, perhaps someone should look at the stated GPTF objective (c), “to support measures aimed at improving the relationship between people and wildlife:”

Most of the free roaming lions left in Namibia are protected within the National Park boundaries but when they cross over into neighbouring tribal conservancies like the King Nehale conservancy which is situated directly on the northern border of the famous Etosha National Park they often become a problem when they start to prey on the locals cattle.”

Hunters that are prepared to arrive on short notice (within 5 days) can experience a problem lion hunt for an extremely low price, often going home with a great trophy” – Namibian Hunting Outfitter

White rhino (Ceratotherium simum) – CITES Appendix I listed, with a total population of 20,409, or less. Poached for rhino horn. Namibia has an estimated (2010) population of 524. Namibia had no CITES quota (only South Africa and Swaziland exempted from CITES Appendix I).

Black rhino (Diceros bicornis) – CITES Appendix I listed, with a total wild population estimate of just 5,042 to 5,455 rhinos (IUCN 2015 estimates). Poached for rhino horn. Namibia has an estimated (2010) population of 1,750. Namibia and South Africa both had CITES quotas of 5 in 2015.

In 2016, the IUCN reported a regrettable increase in rhino poaching in Namibia:

“…………alarming increases in poaching over the past year in other vitally important range states, such as Namibia and Zimbabwe” – IUCN, 9 March 2016

Though the IUCN’s assessment was based on 2015 data only, a well-placed source in Namibia closely associated with rhino conservation has given a (possible?) insight into the rhino poaching situation in Namibia:

The poaching crisis hit an unfortunate high in 2015, and even though most carcasses were found in 2016, the majority of these – as our Minister stated – especially those found in Etosha National Park, were from rhinos poached in 2015. But because the carcasses were only found this year, they had to be registered as part of 2016’s poaching numbers. We have not found any poached carcasses in the Kunene Region this year, although there were two natural mortalities.”

So it doesn’t look like as much ‘income’ as required is being spent on rhino protection and conservation perhaps, with just N$ 447,428(6) (£19,687 GBP, $27,860 USD) reported as spent from the GPTF on “Rhino Security” in 2011/12. This might have changed since of course.


  1. Namibia’s Game Products Trust Fund (GPTF) does not wholly fund conservation societies, but supplies funds for specific needs upon application – for example, upon application a conservation society might receive funding for two vehicles, but no conservation society is directly funded by GPTF on an on-going basis.
  2. The majority of hunting income is accrued into the businesses of hunting operators and tour operators etc. The GPTF and Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) do no accrue significant income from hunting in comparison; Table 4 – “Total Trophy Hunting Income” estimated at some $32.8m USD, whereas Table 1 – “Total Income (GPTF)” for ‘conservation’ purposes, was just $632k USD, or less than 2% of the “Total Trophy Hunting Income.” Of that $632k USD income for conservation, only $390k USD was spent in 2011/12, so less than 1.2% of the”Total Trophy Hunting Income.”  This looks like a very poor ‘conservation’ return based on the numbers available for analysis.
  3. Note:  It is safe to assume that general taxation on hunting and tour operators’ business income is accrued to general Government taxation.
  4. Of course, “Wildlife Parks and Management” received expenditure of N$163m (2012/13)(7) (£7.12m GBP, $10.23m USD) from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) accounts, but that Revenue/Expenditure accrues from all of MET’s sources – In 2012/13 MET’s Total Revenue was N$52m (£2.29m GBP, $3,26m USD), of which hunting contributed (Table 2) N$1.22m (£54k GBP, $70k USD), or just 2.3%. The largest contributor was “Park Entrance Fees” making up 87% of MET’s Revenue in 2012/13 (Ref (7) – Table 7.3).
  5. If Namibia’s GPTF is still in significant surplus (Table 1), then why the need to maintain/increase such high hunting quotas? Why the need to take money to execute Black rhino?
  6. Referring to Table 4, Namibia enjoys a reported general tourism income of $517m USD per annum, compared to just $32.8m USD per annum from Trophy Hunting. Why not use some of the substantial general tourism income to support conservation and negate the claimed ‘need’ for trophy hunting quotas of all precious species, especially rhino? General tourism might actually increase as a result.
  7. Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $12.99bn USD (2014 – short scale billion). So a total estimated hunting income of some $32.8m USD per annum (Table 4) represents just 0.2% of Namibia’s 2014 GDP.   
  8. There is an increase in rhino poaching in general, but also in Namibia. If one agrees with the argument that ‘legal’ hunting gives tacit support and ‘routes to infiltrate’ for poachers to also try to cash in (the argument being that if a paying hunter can kill rhino, why can’t others also seek to kill rhino for income?), then why does Namibia need to auction rhino hunting permits? The same logic/argument applies to elephants, lions etc.
  9. Of course, it can easily be argued that any ‘legal’ rhino trophy hunting or ‘farmed’ rhino horn harvesting just encourages poaching to also cash in, whether the rhino ‘hunting/farming’ is based in Namibia, South Africa etc. – “Rhino Hunting is Not Compatible with Conservation,” The Daily Maverick, 14 March 2016
  10. Why has Namibia sought to conspire with Dallas Safari Club to ‘create’ a hypothetical 2014 leopard (including hunting leopard, or cheetah) population numbers to justify hunting quotas? If there was any true conservation incentive in either party’s intent, then where is the current, independent, verifiable science to support the 2014 claims of 14,000 leopards in Namibia?
  11. There ‘might’ be evidence to support the ‘theory’ that ‘well managed’ trophy hunting can support conservation, but based on a little analysis of readily available data, in Namibia’s (and many other nation’s) case it appears illusive and illusionary.
  12. Africa Geographic reports, “Namibian communities rely on hunting income to protect wildlife,” 16 March 2016. Interesting, but inconclusive that there is any science to back sustainable ‘utilization’ of wildlife for hunting quotas:
    1. Shambala Conservancy – “The Salambala Conservancy is one of Namibia’s most biologically diverse areas, encompassing a rich combination of mopane/terminalia woodlands, floodplains and riverine habits.” It receives the majority of its income from hunting (N$1.9m (2014), £83.6k GBP, $129k USD) with a total of 61% in 2014 and 33% that came from combined tourism returns.
    2. Bamunu Conservancy – “The Bamunu Conservancy is for hunters who wish to experience a challenging hunt in the real Caprivi atmosphere” – This conservancy opened in 2013, last year it reportedly made N$8.5 million (£374k GBP, $578k USD) from hunting. Not clear what the present hunting quotas look like and how sustainable they are (2013 hunting quota included “three elephants, one kudu, two warthogs, two duikers, six buffaloes, eight bush pigs, one crocodile, three hippos, two reedbuck and one waterbuck“). It is also not clear how much income goes back into ‘wildlife conservation’ because the majority of income goes to village communities to buy generators etc.  The conservancy therefore appears to provide wildlife protection (conservation) from local poaching, by ensuring income from wildlife being killed by paying hunting clients –   “We’re a conservancy. We’re not interested in killing animals” which is a slightly contradictory statement from John Musa Mwilima, technical advisor from the Bamunu Conservancy, because there has to be animal killing for that hunting income (?).
    3. Mayuni Conservancy’s “Patrick Mulatehi, said that they have about 3,000 members and that hunting is one of their main activities and provides the main source of income to the conservancy. He said that 65% of the income is generated from hunting while the other 45% comes from joint venture lodges and campsites. According to him this amounted to N$475,000 generated by hunting last year and N$325,000 from lodges and campsites.” Mayuni opened in 2004, with its main objective being to raise income (from hunting and camping) for communities and ‘conserving’ wildlife through trying to ensure it’s not poached. Is there any proof that the hunting concessions issued are based on sustainable science, or required income?
    4. There are plenty more ‘conservancies’ in Namibia: eg. Ondjou Conservancy (for elephant hunting).
    5. However, most of these ‘conservancies’ appear to combine hunting with tourism for income – This protects habitat and wildlife from poaching, but where is the science to ensure sustainability and joined up, formal government approved wildlife conservation planning?
  13. According to ‘American Hunter Karen Mehall Phillips writing in the Daily Caller, 9 March 2016 “Namibia Crushes Anti-Hunters by Banning all Hunting Bans”-

Chalk one up for common sense as the Namibian government got around worldwide anti-hunting extremists seeking to stop hunters’ critical conservation efforts—and, in turn, destroy the economic benefits hunters provide” – Karen Mehall Phillips, 9 March 2016

Well of course, there are no hunting bans that are enforceable from authorities outside of the range countries, so Karen’s chosen title for her article is misleading. There are potential restrictions on importing a given hunting trophy into Europe and the United States (based on proven target species sustainability). So not exactly a “Hunting Ban” is it?

There is certainly common sense in ensuring that any hunting trophy import is sourced from a sustainable supply, not based on targeting an animal (lion) because it strayed (or was baited) from a national park to become a ‘problem’ to be eliminated by a paying hunter. For endangered species, this ‘proof’ is extended to ensure that any Trophy Hunting of that species is proven to directly contribute to the conservation of that species (and provide that economic benefit to the wildlife and not the suspected benefit to the Namibian Government’s general coffers).

All that is being asked for is the proof to support the hunters’ claims. If the hunters’ claims are true, then what‘s the problem? This burden of proof definitely looks like common sense, and should be a policy everyone actually interested in real conservation (on both sides of the argument) should be able to “chalk up” and easily agree upon. If this annoys the hunters, then this tells us the trophy is more important that the claimed ‘conservation’ and/or that the proof of sustainability and the claimed ‘conservation’ is lacking.

Never was this doctrine  (“If it pays it stays”) more evident than in community-based conservation in Namibia. It is all about money. Financial benefits to the community were the focus. National pride, ethics, aesthetics and sound ecological practices shared a sad second place. If any place at all. Everything must have a price tag” – “End of the Game for Namibia,” Christiaan Bakkes, Africa Geographic, 23 March 2015

Sources and References:

  1. Trophy Hunting in Sub Saharan Africa: Economic Scale and Conservation Significance,” Peter A Lindsey, 2008
  2. The $200 Million Question,” Economists at Large, 2013
  3. Transparency International
  4. Auditor – General, Namibia
  5. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Namibia
  8. Economic and conservation significance of the trophy hunting industry in sub-Saharan Africa,” Lindsey 2007
  9. Review of Lion Conservation Strategies,” Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) working document by Hans Bauer, Kristin Nowell, Urs Breitenmoser, Mark Jones and Claudio Sillero-Zubiri, December 2015
  10. IUCN Reports Deepening Rhino Poaching Crisis in Africa,” IUCN, 9 March 2016
  11. Save the Rhino Trust (SRT), Namibia (non-Government Organisation (NGO)
  12. Elephant Lives Being Traded for Votes in Namibia,” Annamiticus, 2 June 201
  13. Namibia Kunene Wildlife Conservation Project Reports, Round
  14. Questionable ‘Science’ Behind Controversial Rhino Hunt Auction,” Annamiticus, 18 January 2014
  15. CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) data
  16. Caught in the crossfire: how cattle and Chinese mining interests are killing off Namibia’s black rhinos,” John Grobler, Oxpeckers Investigative Environmental Journalism, 17 July 2015


 Appendix 1

Namibia_Table 1_16 March 2016_PDF Download

Table 1 – Namibia Key Species Population and Hunting Quotas


Species (Region) %


Current Government Guesstimate of Total Population EU

Assess. (2015)


Expected Government Quota (2016/17) Possible Quota % of     Remaining Population Notes Assessment
Lion 1993
















15 (2010)


“Off-take” 14.0±3.2

(2008 –



> 1 lion per 2,000 km2

2% 3 pop. considered, 1 declined. Population too close to minimum 500 thresholds for sustainability?
Lion (Kunene) 2007




Elephant (Etosha) 2010




? Reserve of 22,270 km2 Namibian elephants CITES Appx. II


Elephant (Kunene) 2010




2014 est.



1 (2014)(6) Reserve of 7,335 km2 Namibian elephants CITES Appx. II


Elephant 2010 ? 180 (2015)(5) Namibian


(Kaudum and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy) est.(4)



(50% est.)

elephants CITES Appx. II


White Rhino 2010




Black Rhino 2010

est.(1) 1,750

? 5 (2014 and 2015) 2014 auction,

$330k USD

paid for a permit to hunt a Black rhino.

Cheetah 3,940(7) ? 150 (2015)(5)


Flawed Namibian Government Estimate(8)
Leopard Unknown 2011 est. 14,000(8) 250 (2015)(5)


  1. IUCN Red List Information
  2. The Kunene Ecological Assessment – “October 2011 and April 2013, just 86 elephants counted
  3. CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE)
  4. Wilderness Wildlife Trust
  5. Species+
  6. Elephant Lives Being Traded for Votes in Namibia,” Annamiticus, 2 June 2014
  7. IUCN Red List – Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) – The largest of these subpopulations supports an estimated 3,940 individuals, comprising the majority of the regional population, which is spread across a large transboundary landscape covering Botswana, Namibia, northern South Africa, south-western Zambia and south-western Mozambique
  8. Blood Lions – In 2011 Namibia in partnership with SCI launched a census “to manage the sustainability of the leopard population.”  A questionnaire was distributed to 1 500 farmers to assess the distribution and relative abundance of leopards throughout Namibia. There were only 400 replies. These, however, were extrapolated which produced a flawed national estimate of leopards of over 14,000.


Further Reading

Namibia’s community wildlife conservation system has come off the rails, investigation shows,” Daily Maverick, 14 December 2021

Conservation Science and Discursive Violence: A Response to Two Rejoinders,” Koot, S; Hebinck, P; Sullivan, S – Society & Natural Resources Journal, 1 November 2021

Investigation – Efficacy of Namibia’s Wildlife Conservation Model at it Relates to African Elephants,” Cruise, A; Sasada, I, Journal of African Elephants, November 2021

Thus, far from being a success-story, Namibia’s much-touted wildlife conservation model, and its adherence to sustainable utilisation of wildlife through community-based management has, in fact, achieved the opposite of what is commonly presented. Overall wildlife numbers are declining, and elephant populations in the Kunene Region are collapsing, while rural communities within the CBNRMs are as impoverished as ever, in many cases, more so

Science for Success—A Conflict of Interest? Researcher Position and Reflexivity in Socio-Ecological Research for CBNRM in Namibia,” Koot, S; Hebinck, P; Sullivan, S – Society & Natural Resources Journal, 20 May 2020





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