Your First African Safari: An Adventure Within Your Reach

by A Manly Guest Contributor on December 19, 2012 · 63 comments

in Travel & Leisure

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Steve Scott.

Man is a hunter.

No matter your take on where we as a species came from, both the pre and post historic man hunted as if his life depended on it…because it did.  Life required hunter-gatherer to survive.  Learn the art of hunting, and a man could feed himself.  Become a skilled hunter, and a man would elevate in status and wealth, could take a mate, raise a family, and propagate the species.  Failure as a hunter meant certain death…or vegetarianism.

And many men failed as hunters because it was really hard.  Though Man is an apex predator, it took cunning, skill, and a lot of courage to pursue wooly mammoths, saber-tooth tigers, and giant sloths with stone axes, flint-tipped spears, and the occasional atlatl.   Thankfully today, hunting is less of a life-or-death ordeal as Man’s oversized brain and advanced tools have more than made up for his limited physical abilities.

Modern weapons are infinitely more sophisticated and effective, and today, game is much more abundant.   Because of far-sighted men like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold and billions of dollars of support from hunters, the conservation movement was born.  As a result, wildlife is thriving throughout North America.  Yet while there are more hunting opportunities today in the United States than ever before, some intrepid hunters look beyond our shores to a continent where the flora is little wilder, and much of the fauna has a nasty propensity to turn the hunter into the hunted.  I am referring, of course, to Africa.

Penetrating the Dark Continent

Though native Africans rightfully take issue, European explorers of the colonial age “opened” the continent from the 17th century on.  Africa and its wealth of wildlife was a magnet for many a gentleman sportsman, soldier of fortune, and anyone who enjoyed wearing khaki.  Fortunes could be made in a season with the “white gold” of the elephant tusk, and rhino horn was then, as today, in high demand in Asian and Middle Eastern marketplaces.  Without regulation, much less enforcement of conservation imperatives, Africa’s great herds of pachyderms were pushed to the abyss of extinction.  And though European colonial governments had a mixed record “managing” the lands they ruled, eventual development and enforcement of game laws eased pressure on African wildlife and paved the way for the golden era of African safari.

T.R., Hemingway, The Duke, et al.

On right, TR & son Kermit with a cape buffalo taken on the 1909 safari, which TR turned into a series of articles for  Scribner’s Magazine.

Though commercial hunting ventures were already coming to the fore, Theodore Roosevelt’s grand safari of 1909 brought African safari and things like the pith helmet to the public eye.  Financed by Andrew Carnegie and his own writing contracts, T.R., the stout, myopic ex-president and his son Kermit braved thirteen months traveling and hunting the Dark Continent, to ultimately gather the largest collection of natural history specimens ever donated to the Smithsonian Institute.  The collection, which totaled 23,151 specimens, included insects, birds, and non-game mammals.  It also included a number of lions, elephants and rhinoceros, along with a plethora of other big game species.  Through his series of articles in Scribner’s Magazine and the eventual compilation that became the book African Game Trails, Roosevelt introduced the world to safari, and the rich and famous came in droves.

More than hunting can take place on safari. Here, two prolific writers, Roosevelt and Hemingway, ply their craft in the comfort of the open air office.

Inspired by Roosevelt’s adventures, Ernest Hemingway’s African safaris were both productive and nearly fatal.  His hunting exploits were the basis for the classic novel The Green Hills of Africa, as well as the short stories “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”  Hemingway took dangerous game on both expeditions, but it was not the game that nearly got him killed.  On his second safari, Hemingway survived not one, but two plane crashes, adding to his legendary persona as a fearless adventurer and the manliest of authors.

Later in the 20th century, actor William Holden perpetuated the safari mystic with the Hollywood crowd and other notables of the day when he established the Mt. Kenya Safari Club in 1959.  Through the decade of the 60′s and beyond, “The Club” became the retreat of choice for the glitterati, including crowned heads, luminaries of the day, and A-list actresses in fitted bush jackets.  It also became a bastion of adventure for some of the most notable alpha males of the period, including Sir Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sean Connery, and John Wayne.

Actors Gary Cooper & Clark Gable were members of the Mt. Kenya Safari Club.

With generals, knights, and the Duke shining a spotlight on the safari lifestyle, it was little wonder the not-so-rich and famous soon began to hunt Africa as well.

Safari for the Rest of Us

Today, Africa remains the Mecca of big game hunting, as more species of plains and dangerous game inhabit sub-Saharan Africa than anyplace else on earth.  And while a full-bag Big Five (the five dangerous game species of Africa — elephant, rhinoceros, lion, leopard, and cape buffalo) safari in Tanzania can run north of $200,000, there are plenty of affordable big game safaris that can be had on a more modest budget…say mid-$5000 range, including airfare.  Or put another way, a seven-day African safari with several species for the equivalent of a moderately-priced elk hunt in the Rocky Mountains.  Think about that!  Bottom line: an African safari is a doable proposition for most any man who is: 1) employed; and 2) has the desire to go.

A Bad Example:  Me

When I booked my first African safari nearly 20 years ago, I was an idiot.  Well, perhaps not an idiot, but my lack of knowledge of what I was getting into was laughable.  For a seven-day plains game hunt in South Africa, I was working out hard every day to build my strength and endurance in the event I encountered a rampaging lion in the bush.  Problem with my logic was, there are precious few free-ranging lions in South Africa, and if I did happen to encounter one, no amount of speed or strength would have saved my tender hide.

Operating on the premise that you are more likely to undertake something outside your comfort zone (like go on an African safari) if you have a general knowledge of the process, and can be reasonably certain you will not be mauled by a lion, here are a few tips that can help make your first safari a resounding success.

The How-To of Safari

Like any worthwhile project, having a solid plan for a safari will go a long way to insure its success.  The single biggest factor in determining the outcome of a safari adventure is which operation the safari is conducted with.  In other words, choosing a professional hunter, or PH is the hunters first, and most important decision.

1.  Choosing A Professional Hunter: 

The professional hunter is the jack-of-all trades of the safari.  He acts as host, guide, tracker, outfitter, bartender, and sometimes cook, mechanic, or counselor.  In short, the PH is the man in charge of everything that has anything to do with the hunt.

But how does one choose the right professional hunter with the myriad of choices available?  Simply by doing the research.

Choosing the right PH/operator is much like finding a doctor or dentist when someone moves to a new area:  ask others for recommendations; call references and see what kind of experience others have had, and make the decision based on the response.

Attending local or national hunting and safari shows  provide a great opportunity to interact directly with professional hunters. Often, a firm handshake and face-to-face conversation can tell much about a man, even enough to know whether or not this PH is the right match for the hunter.  Some of the bigger hunting conventions that provide an opportunity to meet a good number of African operators are held in January and February each year, including those of the Dallas Safari Club, Houston Safari Club, and Safari Club International (usually in Reno, NV).

Other good sources of information about African hunting opportunities include outdoor magazines and safari-oriented outdoor television programs.  Safari DVD’s are also a good way to learn about various African operators, and the day-to-day routine of the African hunt.

2.  What Do You Want to Hunt? 

For the first-time African safari hunter, beginning with plains game is usually a good idea. Plains game are, for the most part, species that are NOT part of the Big 5 or Dangerous 7 (includes the Big 5, plus crocodile and hippopotamus). Plains game is a broad category that includes antelope and other species, and run the gamut of size and cost:  from a pygmy antelope like the dik-dik (really) that weighs about 6 lbs, to the  2200 lb Lord Derby Eland.  For a cost comparison, consider warthogs and impala that have trophy fees averaging around $350, while the bongo of central Africa regularly sell for $30,000 and more.

The “whitetail deer” of Africa, the impala is an abundant prey species that is found in most southern and east African countries.

So for most hunters, starting with the more common (and less expensive) species is the preferred choice.

3.  Safari Costs

Though hunting in Africa is a financially-manageable endeavor, the client has to be able to budget the costs.  The price structure of hunting in Africa consists of two main components:  daily rates and trophy fees.

Daily rates are the per day cost of being in camp.  Daily rates cover your food and lodging, daily laundry service, services of the PH, tracker(s) and skinner, transportation (in country) adult beverages (usually). In short: all of the things that make your hunting experience possible.

Common in arid regions of southwestern Africa, the springbok is a beautiful and abundant plains game species. It is also the mascot of the South African national rugby team.

Trophy fees are the charges for each animal harvested.  Trophy fees vary based on supply and demand.  Common springbok are well, common, in the arid regions of Namibia and South Africa and the trophy fees are relatively low.  Conversely, though there are good numbers of kuduthroughout southern Africa, their elusive nature and striking and beautiful long spiral horns put this species on the top of most hunters’ safari wish list.  Accordingly, trophy fees for kudu are higher than most other plains game species.

With its graceful movements and long, spiral horns, the kudu is always in high demand by safari hunters.

With dozens of species available through most hunting operators, it is literally possible to shoot one’s self into bankruptcy if the hunter does not maintain some semblance of fiscal control.  It makes sense to decide before the hunt on a core list of species to pursue, with a couple of “maybes” in the event an outstanding specimen is encountered.  It’s easy to be talked into taking a toad of a sable bull when he is standing broadside at 80 paces, but when it comes time for paying your safari bill at the end of the hunt, that extra $12,000 trophy fee might mean the kids miss out on their African souvenirs, or college tuition.

Sometimes, there are pricing alternatives.

Though most hunts are marketed on a daily rate/trophy fee basis, some operators are offering package hunts that are inclusive of all fees, sometimes even airfare.  Providing economies of scale pricing will often lower the overall costs of the hunt to surprisingly affordable rates.  The package I referred to earlier in the piece offered a seven-day hunt and four trophy fees, plus international airfare this past season for a remarkable $5650.

4.  Deciding Where to Hunt

What country to hunt may be the first issue to decide, even before the determination of which PH to use.  However, for the vast majority of first-time safari hunters, the countries of South Africa and Namibia are the destinations of choice.  Why?  They are safe, (THE issue for most first-timers in Africa) relatively inexpensive, and offer a great number of hunting options.  In addition, most hunters feel they need to acquire African hunting experience before going in pursuit of dangerous game, which makes a lot of sense.  Plains game hunting, be it in South Africa, Namibia, or one of the northern countries, is great preparation for the inevitable desire to eventually chase creatures that can and will bite back.

African Safari Within Your Grasp

An African hunting safari is not for everyone, but the cool factor alone is enough to send many a first-time hunter across the pond.   Exotic lands, pristine nature, and abundant wildlife straight out of Nat Geo Wild is the appeal for others.  But whatever the motivation, an African safari is an obtainable goal for almost everyone.  Forgo that daily stop at Starbucks and eat out one less time per week and in a couple of years, your safari account will be fully funded.  It is strictly a matter of setting priorities, saving, and planning, and with a little time and fiscal discipline, you will soon be pursuing some of the great game animals of the world.   But be warned:  Africa is an addictive itch that is not easily scratched.  For most safari hunters, the first trip to the Dark Continent will seldom be their last.


Steve Scott, a reformed attorney, former college professor, and full time outdoor television producer can be found at and followed at @stevescotttv.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anthony December 19, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Any recommendations of some reputable safari companies for a group of young guys wanting to go on their first safari?

2 Bruce Allan West December 19, 2012 at 10:30 pm

This is a long-time dream of mine. I appreciate the insight. I’ll be coming back to this in the (hopefully near) future.

3 Jeff December 20, 2012 at 5:57 am

Of course hunting is necessary, but I’d suggest it’s just as manly to visit South Africa, Namibia, Botswana etc with your family of friends for the simple purpose of watching and learning about the amazing wildlife, rather than shooting trophies.
A hunting trip for one costs the same as a basic but good sightseeing-safari trip for a family. Bring your kids, take them on amazing guided drives/walks in Kruger Park, sit at a waterhole in Etosha, paddle the delta in Botswana, and learn something about the planet and our part in it.

4 Michael December 20, 2012 at 9:09 am

What Jeff said. Is it manly to shoot an animal for sport from a range rover, blind or whatever; all while the guide does most of the work? I’m not anti hunting at all, but if you have to travel to Africa to shoot an elephant, you’re compensating for something. Just saying.

5 Tom December 20, 2012 at 10:17 am

Hunting is great when you’re a caveman or stuck in the woods looking for food, or any other survival situation. Flying to Africa for the sole purpose of hunting big game because you “can” or “have the means to be able to do so”, is quite frankly disgusting and not very “manly” at all. I’m not an anti-hunter at either, but to me there needs to be an actual purpose for a hunt. A logical reason to do so. In saying this, it is just my opinion and I thank the author for his article and his insight into this.

6 Jeff C. December 20, 2012 at 11:25 am

I have nothing against hunting, but you can have a helluva time for less money on a photo safari. How often do you get to enjoy a cocktail on the Equator while playing croquet on the manicured lawn at the Mt. Kenya Safari Lodge?

7 Sean December 20, 2012 at 11:38 am

I have to agree with Jeff and Michael on this one, hunting is fine as long as the animals are used for their meat and skins in a sustainable manner, for example hunting a single deer. But just wanting to kill the “Big 5″ so you can feel like a man is ridiculous. Africa is an amazing continent, and one should visit it to experience the environment and wildlife of such a unique place. Not to kill it.

8 Shane Lambert December 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm

If anyone is seriously considering an African Safari, I can personally recommend John Abraham or Vlam Myburg of Madubula Safaris. These men are world class professional hunter’s and will provide a challenging, authentic hunting experience. Website:

9 Mike December 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I regularly read this site and this is the first time I have been in complete disagreement with an article. Yes, man is a hunter, but this is for food and survival and not purely for sport. I grew up in the countryside and spent much of my youth hunting and fishing, though this was completely sustainable; we ate almost all of what we caught/shot and respected the environment in which it took place.

The idea of promoting the unnecessary, gratuitous and poorly regulated killing of some of the world’s most beautiful animals for nothing more than a petty sense of feeling “manly” is in very poor taste.

10 James December 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Me too. Killing animals for fun doesn’t belong in this century.

11 Jonathan December 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I can see the point of several comments here. I’m an avid hunter, but only hunt when I will directly use the animal killed. I can’t say I would turn down an offered safari, but partly for this reason I don’t have a burning desire to hunt Africa.

Having stated my personal preference I would still offer a strong defense for African hunting. A North American hunting in Africa is a major contributor to African wildlife conservation. Yes, you can go on a photo safari for less, but you will help conservation efforts more by purchasing trophy fees.

The cash not only helps directly, but the purchase gives real market value to the animal, and therefore creates a strong economic incentive to help that species thrive. You may not like this reality, wishing instead that people recognized an animals inherent worth, but reality is different. One of the most effective ways to protect and increase something is to give it economic value, and sport hunting is a proven method of accomplishing this is wildlife conservation.

One last thought that’s harder to put in words. Hunting is fundamentally different from photo trips. I completely enjoy being in the woods any time of the year, and overall I am in the woods more when I am not hunting than when I am. However, there’s a fundamental difference between the two.

When you go to just observe you remain an outsider, a spectator. You are participating in what is happening as an observer. When you go hunting it’s different. You become a participant in the world that you are in. You have an active part, and you play a role with consequences. It’s the difference between attending a football game with tickets to box seats, or attending a football game as a member of the starting lineup.

No matter how great the commentary, big screen views, and instant replay are, it’s not the same as catching the ball yourself.

12 Rich December 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Mike took the words out of my mouth.first article on here I’m disappointed with.nothing manly about shooting an animal for sport

13 Joey L. December 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

As a vegetarian of 10 yrs I don’t need to echo in my opinion of trophy hunting; however, I found Steve’s article to be well written, informative, and frankly…interesting. I think we can all agree on the big take-away…don’t be afraid to go and visit Africa.

14 D December 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I agree that this is outdated and irresponsible. Even the King of Spain and his family (and which kids, Trump or Romney or comparable?) got in deep trouble when they recently did this sort of thing and posed fatuously with the gorgeous dead bodies, looking like the people were trashy idiots and the animals were noble and tragic. My boss was married to a granddaughter of TR, so I have seen the sad elephant-leg umbrella stands etc. in person, and the fact that he hunted one hundred years ago, but also established the National Parks system, should be informative to the discerning–times change, and the wise change with them.

15 Impatient December 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm

These posters need to get off their PC high horses. And off hunters’ backs while they’re at it. I’m not a hunter, but that doesn’t mean I think I’m morally superior. If these men want to hunt, simultaneously providing the means for replenishing the supply, what objection can anybody else have? Bug off, prudes.

16 KT December 21, 2012 at 8:23 am

While I enjoyed the article I was a little shocked at the comments. I was pleasently suprized. I also believe that the use of high powered fire arms for sport has very little use in todays society.

HOWEVER, I also believe that survival skills are a neccessity. Knowing how to hunt, trap, catch, clean, and cook an animal is a very usefull skill. I have begun teaching my girls, both less that 12 years old, how to use a bow and arrow. 2013 will be the year of survival skills for them.

17 AlexZ December 21, 2012 at 8:55 am

Impatient: You keep saying “PC.” I do not think that it means what you think it means. It’s not just a synonym for “thing I dislike that has vaguely liberal connotations.”

Kudos to Johnathan for his very insightful comment.

As for the article itself, blasting animals from a distance in order to prove one’s manliness seems a bit silly to me. While I do not hunt, if I did, “sport” would not be one of the reasons I would choose to start. I definitely appreciate that the author, if only for reasons of finances, suggests that most people avoid the Big Five (most of which are either endangered or threatened) in favor of relatively common (and inexpensive) herd animals. So there’s that. But the connection of “Hemmingway/Roosevelt/Whoever did this activity –> Hemmingway/Roosevelt/Whoever were manly –> Therefore, this activity is manly” grinds my gears.

18 John Bohlg December 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm

What about Alaska? That’s an adventure to me!

19 Steve December 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Reading the article, I expected many of the above responses. Frankly, they worry me. Hunting featured on the Art of Manliness — can there be a more perfect fit!! Yet, the self-righteous, judgmental prudes show up wearing their girly pants and want to degrade a hunter.

My kudos to Jonathan for the insightful comments as well, but Impatient is correct: All the throwing around of “sustainable”, needing to “prove” their manliness, and “compensating” is a nauseating symptom of some serious psychological PC wussification going on.

It’s OK to risk your bodily health racing, climbing, boxing, etc. to “prove” your manliness, but to hunt — an age-old endeavor — is to “compensate”? Give it a rest. I enjoy hunting. I do it for sport. I eat what I kill. I butcher it, etc. If I did it in Africa, the trophy fees would help the wildlife management and the locals get the resource (meat, etc.).

It’s obvious that many of the antis, which they claim they are not, have never done the activity. Hunting is not easy. On the rare occasion it is, you thank God.

20 Sam December 22, 2012 at 6:40 am

I’m a hunter. I got my first rifle when I was five, and in my late twenties now, I hunt every fall for the freezer. The first rule we were all taught as kids is that if you’re not going to use it, for fur, meat, or protecting your stock, you don’t shoot it.

That being said, I don’t know if trophy animals like antelope are hunted just for their skins and horns, or if their meat is enjoyed, too. If so, by all means, go and enjoy your safari. But I highly doubt anyone is eating lion.

21 P December 22, 2012 at 7:22 am

As a South African born and bred, I find this offensive. I have no problem with hunting per se – however, our continent is the poorest in the world and as such poaching abounds. Many offers to hunt big game, even though the offering company or professional hunter may seem legitimate, are in fact illegal. The reason: the big five in many parts of the continent are close to extinction. In South Africa specifically we are losing hundreds of rhino every year to the ridiculous superstitious demand in Asia.

So if your hobby is hunting, by all means come and hunt the plentiful plains game. If not, come and game watch, it contributes much more to conservation here then you having a trophy on a wall.

22 Kenneth December 22, 2012 at 9:50 am

I did a two week trip to South Africa for my R&R from Iraq. I was able to hunt game birds, waterfowl, big game, and also did some fishing for tiger fish. The whole trip was a great success. I told myself it was my once in a life time trip but near the end of the trip I knew I would return someday. I did the trip pretty cheap by doing this for my R&R so the Army flew me to South Africa for free. Most of my trip was spent fishing, upland bird hunting, and waterfowl hunting so those only had a daily rate. The only trophy fees I paid were for the blesbok and warthog I took. The whole trip cost around $7k. Not bad for two weeks of hunting.

Also don’t drink the tap water. It’s safe to drink but you may still get sick from it. Play it safe and stick with the bottled stuff. The PH won’t mind and you won’t miss any action.

The PH I used was named Pieter Kriel ( Pieter was great. He is very knowledgeable from his time as a museum curator. He also was very flexible. Since I was making the trip from Iraq it was very difficult to pin point the exact date I would arrive. I gave him a date range and explain the situation and he was still willing to work with me. I only had 24 hours notice of when I would be arriving in South Africa.

Another aspect of my trip that wasn’t covered was seeing the condition of the country and gaining a bigger appreciation for what we have here in the U.S. It was strange but I felt safer in Iraq than I did in South Africa. Granted I was in Iraq after the surge and things were relatively calm in our AO but we still got hit. I felt comfortable out in the camps or ranches I stayed at but the towns and cities put me on edge. It didn’t help seeing warning signs for frequent hijacking areas.

Lastly those bashing the author or the website need to lighten up. I see a lot of the comments focusing in on the killing of the animals but hunting is more than just killing. Hunting is an adventure about the pursuit of wary game, getting out in the wilderness, and enjoying the company of those that join in the hunt. The meat from these trips is not wasted. The locals that worked on the ranches I was at ate everything I didn’t. Hunts that target problem animals destroying dirt poor farmers not only protect their meager means of income and subsistence but also offer them a rare opportunity for meat in their diets.

Hunters are also big contributors to conservation. The money collected for licensing fees goes towards habitat and game conservation efforts. The trophy fees paid to ranches in South Africa help pay for more animals to be purchased for the ranch which helps to create diversity in the breeding stock on the property. Many hunters also participate in conservation groups such as Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Pheasants Forever, and many more. These groups specialize in improving and increasing the habitat available, introducing and reintroducing animals to areas, educating children on the importance of conservation and ethical hunting practices. So take a moment and think about how you have supported conservation, either through time, work, or money. This isn’t meant to attack or insult the naysayers but to show the deep appreciation sportsmen have for the game they pursue. If you don’t understand it then let us be.

PS Game animals generally taste really good. Except warthog. Warthog was the worst tasting meat I have ever tried. I will not make that same mistake again.


23 dannyb December 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Well said kenneth. As for hunting in general unless a person is a full fledged vegan, i find it extremely hypocritical and cowardly when people bash hunting and the killing of wild game but are more than willing to buy a chunk if beef/chicken/turkey/whatever that was raised in a pen from birth just to be led to the slaughterhouse and killed so it could be put into a nice looking package so the weak dont have to deal with the fact that the pathetic factory raised animal can be their dinner. As far as i am concerned if you want to eat steak the rest of your life you should be required to kill and butcher a cow at least once

24 Mirza December 23, 2012 at 11:09 am

Racing, climbing, boxing etc. are not sports which involve killing animals for fun. Animals should only be killed for food or if they’re becoming a feral pest. Hunting them so some wannabe can stick a trophy on his wall and act like a big man is a big wank.

First article on this site that has made me shake my head in disagreement.

25 DannyP December 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

First of all, you guys who are bashing on hunting (and prefacing with “I’m not anti-hunting is like saying I’m not sexist but a woman’s role is XYZ) have no idea what the safari industry is like, or what it is about.

Without sport hunting in Africa, most of these wild places and animals would frankly be GONE. Look at Kenya before 1970 and now. Rampant poaching, tiny game reserves, no respect for wildlife. Hunting gives “value” to the animals. Most people forget you live in cushy Western society….most African’s, do not. They live in a harsh world of reality. If animals are not hunted locally, in the view of the natives, they are a burden. They raid their crops, destroy their farms, take up land that could be planted, and in the Big 5 cases, kill your friends and family on a frighteningly regular basis.

The safari industry pumps millions of dollars each and every year INTO those local communities. Each camp employs dozens of locals as guides, trackers, cooks, maids, mechanics, et al. These people would otherwise not likely be able to provide for their often large families. Remember, multiple wives is still a normal and common thing there, an average man might have 15 mouths to feed between wives and kids. Animals having value means there is LESS poaching, and motivation to keep herds healthy, and to keep land available to them.

Also, what the majority don’t realize and probably think happens, you don’t go shoot an impala, take a picture, and leave it in the field. ALL game that is taken, is used, either in camp or locally. That eland you shot this morning, you will eat tonight and maybe a few more nights. It provides protein to the camp, and to its staff. Excess meat is donated to local villages. 1 elephant will feed half a dozen villages for several days. They don’t have McDonald’s on every corner in the bush to make sure your family has protein in their diet. These are people who rely on hunters to provide basic nutrition. They don’t have food stamps, they don’t have food banks. They eat what they can grow/make, and what is given to them. Nothing is wasted. Ever.

There aren’t endless cattle farms producing cheap meat like we have here. Hunting for basic sustenance is something lost on folks in modern world. We hunters here, hunt for the excellent meat, to get away from the world, to challenge ourselves and to reconnect with our roots. Only thing different with the safari, is the scenery.

Another point I saw mentioned….it is extremely rare to be on a safari where you just drive around and shoot from the Land Cruiser (more popular then Range Rovers ;) *). In fact it is illegal in some countries as it is here. Many people DO go on easy effort safaris on the big game farms in RSA and Namibia, but the majority want that connection to days not so long passed of true wild Africa, and hunt on foot, sometimes 10-20 miles per day. They do this in places you have to take charter planes deep into the bush where civilization is HOURS away by plane.

For the guys looking for info for where to get started, try with one of the many, many hunting forums on the net. You’ll find guys who have the T-shirt, outfitters, operators, PH’s, etc. And to those that are interested, GO NOW!!! You can borrow money, you can’t borrow time.

26 Ray S December 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I would rate this the most disgraceful article I have read on the blog thus far. I live in Kenya currently and am just shocked that in this day and age “manly” men would consider it a worthwhile leisure activity to seek out and kill beautiful and graceful animals that are not pests or dangers to individuals or communities in which they live. Kenya has had a ban on game hunting since 1977 (not sure if it applies to private game ranches) and has a thriving tourism industry not based on huge fees to kill helpless animals but on responsible reserve management and animal conservation efforts. This is a huge sector providing a great bulk of the employment opportunities in the country and it still benefits a large majority WITHOUT the need for killing animals. To argue that it is okay to kill an animal for fun because it will not really go to waste since its meat, hide and other parts will be used to feed people at camp and in the broader community is pretty lame. If one can afford to pay $5,000 – $200,000+ to go on a hunting safari I doubt protein either for him/herself or the local community is really an issue. Buy the local beef and make a small donation to the less well-off rather than kill non standard fare (lions, leopards, elephant etc.) and to avoid the guilt dump it on a local who in your opinion will go for anything for lack of an alternative.
Further, to use Theodore Roosevelt as one exemplifying the the virtues of a great hunter is shameful. If he really was interested in providing the Smithsonian with fine trophies and specimens of the fauna from his great African safari I do not see why he, his son Kermit and company needed to kill in excess of one animal from each category (from my general reading 512 beasts in total including 17 lion, 11 elephant and 20 rhinoceros).
Killing harmless animals for sport, in my opinion, amounts to bloodlust on the part of the perpetrator regardless of licenses obtained, fees paid or fortunes spent to make it legitimate as a sport worthy of a rational man.

27 Jay December 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Not the best subject matter artofmanliness.

Killing an animal to protect yourself and others is manly. Killing an animal to feed yourself and others is manly. Killing an animal just to feel cool couldn’t be further from being manly.

28 JB December 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm

This is a well written article. I can see the author put a lot of time and thought into it, so kudos to him. Just a poor choice of subject matter.

29 Lewis December 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I vastly misunderstood the sentence near the beginning: “it took cunning, skill, and a lot of courage to pursue wooly mammoths, saber-tooth tigers, and GIANT SLOTHS WITH STONE AXES, FLINT-TIPPED SPEARS, AND THE OCCASIONAL ATLATL.”
Those are some badass sloths

30 Jacob December 24, 2012 at 2:23 am

After reading this article and the comments below, I’m reminded of a piece of advice my grandfather gave me about life in general. “Take what you like and leave the rest” Some will be against hunting, some like myself enjoy it. I do not attempt to force people to hunt and I expect people not to force me to stop.

31 Robin December 24, 2012 at 8:31 am

I will never understand the attraction in not only killing an animal that has done nothing to you, but then having your picture taken with it and mounting their head on the wall. It seems pointless, senseless, and bloodthirsty. And no, I am not anti-hunting for food. But for pleasure? That’s blood thirst.

32 Charlie December 24, 2012 at 9:32 am

I just returned from a two-week safari in South Africa, which was the trip of a lifetime. Except I shot with a camera instead of a gun. I am a fisherman, and agree with Sam’s comments about, “if you’re not going to use it, for fur, meat, or protecting your stock, you don’t shoot it.” But the idea of a $6,000 fee “making up for” the loss of one rare adult animal, or helping conservation efforts, is clearly false for anyone with any knowledge of how the statistics of endangered populations work.
The populations of rare animals are very difficult to maintain and the loss of even a single breeding age animal can have wide ranging effects. There are so few of some of these breeds, and have to be kept in protected areas to prevent poaching, so getting enough animals together in a safe enough place to keep them breeding is challenge. So losing one adult has a huge effect. While today’s game preserves and anti-poaching efforts are key to keeping these animals alive, safari preserves can be quite successful and enjoyable without killing the animals.
Also, just because you paid someone $6,000 doesn’t mean you’re not a poacher.
Anyway, I support the sustainable and responsible use of natural resources, including hunting–so blast away at springboks if you like–but leave the leopards, genets, kudu, etc. alone.

33 NormalAbby December 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm

each to his own, and to respect self, i need respect your differences. each makes a good argument from their sides. as a born and bred south african, please stop being deluded and that your “hunting” helps my county’s conservation, by jolly freak out blistering barnacles of seagulls, breath, woMan.
these events only support the professional hunters and their farms. NOT the communities or the conservation of south africa. it’s false marketing and easily having the wool pulled over your eyes because you want to believe you are doing something for the environment. ask for the conservation credentials, i do.
be responsible when you do what ever it is you choose to do. if you going to support south africa’s conservation, help put an end to the poachers killing the Rhino’s.

34 Declan S December 26, 2012 at 8:19 pm

As expected (and as in any online blog post regarding hunting), there’s a lot of hot-headedness going around in here.

Morally, those who like hunting can feel free, each to their own yada yada. As long as it’s not doing any bad to me I’m not really bothered (I personally wouldn’t be able to kill a mouse unless really put out by it).

Manly wise, as long as you’re happy in your own skin and feel your own man then all’s good. Judging others on their manliness was not the purpose of this website, and is a no-no in my books (but if judging’s your thing, go for it!)

Regarding the planet and conservation of these animals, this is a much more complex issue, and there have been all sorts or claims and opinions put out by those who have or have not been to Africa. These claims may also have been inflated to prove a point or whatever. It would be very hard to say exactly if money goes towards park owner’s pockets, conservation or the local population simply because I have seen very little statistics on the matter and there are so many parks/whatever in Africa that there’s very likely to be a mix of the corrupt and the non corrupt. Only those at the park and the surrounding area truly know, and if you’re the only one in the surrounding area with internet to advertise your ranch you’re hardly going to tell everyone how you pocket all the money hunting and non-hunting safaris.

All in all, I’m not going to tell anyone to hunt or not hunt (I had an amazing time in SA non-hunting, but for reasons above even I can’t tell how honorable the owners of each ranch were). What I will say is stop shoving around unresearched statements you found from the internet to back up arguments, and if you’re going on safari in the future and want to be morally secure then do all the research you can into the places you’re visiting. Otherwise, hot air for all, which I’ve always seen in these arguments.

It’s all really proof that there needs to be a lot more research and regulation of safaris in Africa (to provide facts and figures), but such organisations would be extremely hard to put into place unless it was very large and secure. It’s all a minefield, and if you want to avoid the variable risk of funding illegal ranches then I’d advise not going on safari altogether. If that’s the case, don’t then afterwards being all morally superior!

35 John December 26, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I ran accross this and thought I’d add my two cents. For those of you who are unaware how things work in Africa and most places for that matter. If the animal, be it elephant or antelope, has no value to the native population then it will be killed and eaten. Then it will be replaced with a cow if possible. The subsequent unselective harvesting of these animals then leads to their virtual extinction. This has held true for all of Africa especially areas that have banned hunting. Places like Kenya who have viewing parks that are truely impressive while the rest of the country is virtually barren of most of the indigenous species. The South Africa “game ranch” while not perfect is single handedly responsible for the Black Rhino as well as a significant contributer to the White Rhino populatio. The only reason that there are any native animals left in the southern half of Africa is Hunting and the value it brings to having those animals. While obvious I am pro-hunting I can assure you that I am also pro photo safari. Africa is a wonderful Place and Hunting is not for everybody. But with out it Africa has proven time and again it cares little for the welfare of its animals. I Suggest you go and see for yourself! This year or as soon as you can!

36 Robert December 29, 2012 at 12:27 am

I really enjoyed this article and found it to be both educational and entertaining. I never realized a man could hunt Africa for such a reasonable price. After reading this article, I may have just added one more adventure to my “Bucket List”.

37 Harry December 30, 2012 at 10:32 am

For everyone claiming they aren’t anti-hunting, I’m reading an awful lot of ignorant anti-hunting sentiment.

I found this article very helpful and informative. I don’t think I’ll be going on safari any time in the foreseeable future, but I didn’t think it would be fiscally possible to ever go.

38 Adam December 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm

This makes me want to take a trip to Africa.

39 Evan M December 31, 2012 at 1:27 am

There’s a lot of ignorant anti-hunting comments in here.

Gotta say it was a good, concise article and I’d like to see more hunting articles on this site. There should have been something about Robert Ruark in it though. He was a great writer of the African Safari.

40 Logan Pribbeno December 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Great write-up Steve. I fired it off to my closest friends in an effort to get on Safari.

“There is a passion for hunting, something deeply implanted in the human breast” – Charles Dickens

We have hunting to thank for mankind’s existence, our opposable thumbs, forward facing eyes, even logical thinking. It is also why the game of ‘tag’ is played on every continent, whether taught or not.

I can understand the anti-hunting view. Modern man, sitting high on the urban or suburban trough, all possible conveniences at our figer tips. It’s distracting and makes it easy to see ourselves as disconnected from nature. As somebody whose job it is to supply the masses with these conveniences in the form of food, I can assure you we are yet a primitive culture, dependent on nature.

For those that don’t “get” hunting, I urge you to give it a single try. Body and mind, we were created to hunt. In opposition to a 24 hour LCD existence, providing only criticism to those that create, it is an exhilarating feeling to use our bodies and minds as intended.

41 Steve Scott (author) December 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I have appreciated many of the thoughtful comments about this article and have not been surprised that many people disagree with hunting. However, there appears to be a serious lack of knowledge as to what occurs on safari in today’s Africa. And while I am not attempting to “convert” those who object into hunters, my hope is that this knowledge will help non-hunters realize the benefits safari hunting contributes to modern wildlife management.
Africa is a poor continent, and most rural African’s lack adequate protein in their daily diet. Since the mid 1990′s, I have either hunted, filmed, or been along on hundreds of African hunts, and, with the exception of hyena, the meat, bone, sinew, etc of every animal harvested has NEVER gone to waste. From dik-dik to elephant and steaks to intestines; it is all utilized. All of it. If one could only share the looks of thanks and appreciation we see from the indigenous people when they share in the bounty of the hunt, this criticism of “trophy hunting” and the supposed wanton waste it creates would end. But the tangible benefits of safari hunting go well beyond the cooking fire. It creates jobs, and lots of them.
The safari industry is the foundation of the rural economy in Africa’s hunting countries. While photographic tourists spend hundreds of dollars, hunters spend thousands, and create jobs in the process. Trackers, skinners, drivers, cooks, camp staff, managers, and professional hunters are just some of the jobs that are created; often in areas deep in the bush and far away from the luxury photographic lodges. In addition, safari companies create infrastructure in the most rural of places. Roads, schools, and medical clinics are often part of the safari concession agreement that benefits those who have no other resources than the fauna that inhabits their land. And because of the financial benefits from hunting that inure to the local citizens, people who used to compete with wildlife become its’ defender.
Without modern machinery, a man can farm about two acres of maize, Africa’s staple crop. That two acres of maize is effectively his entire income for the season. When an elephant comes into that field to feed, the farmer will do whatever it takes to get him out; yell, scream, throw rocks…or use a gun if he has it. The man and the elephant are competitors, and in the end, neither will win.
But safari hunting changes the paradigm.
Instead of competition, that trophy bull elephant is now a potential source of income to the farmer. Instead of risking both he and the jumbo’s life to get it out of the field, the man will not harm the bull, and will protect it and its valuable tusks from poachers who would do it harm. The reason? The money generated by safari hunting gives the farmer, and the rest of his village, an incentive to protect the wildlife.
Fact is, a poached impala is worth about $4, while the trophy fee for an impala harvested by a foreign hunter is $400, and while the indigenous do not receive the entire amount, the “trickle down” benefit is significantly greater than without hunting.
Others have stated it more eloquently, but in a world with 7 billion people, when it comes to wildlife/human conflict, the wildlife will ultimately lose. In today’s modern world, wildlife must pay its own way, and the highest and best economic use for most wildlife is created by hunting. It is true in the North American Conservation Model, and it is true in Africa as well.

42 Joshua December 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm

“I am not anti-hunting buuuuttt” nothing that comes before the word ‘but’ really seems to matter based on what follows. Man is indeed a hunter, and hopefully will forever be one.

The fact is hunters pay the lion’s share, sorry, of most conservation budgets. In doing so they have assigned value to a critter that otherwise would have none in a practical sense. I would recommend the writings of Jeff Cooper to those who are fans of the idea or just curious why we hunters do as we do. He also states perfectly the role hunters play in Africa. It is not at all unregulated and benefits the people and animals in a direct way instead of the watered down charity trickle.

I have hunted with rifle, shotgun, pistol, bow, and with both knife and spear against feral boar/hybrid hogs. Those last seem to satisfy the ‘well you would nott be so tough without that rifle’ crowd who instead are horrified at the thought. I have hunted for both culling, which borders on sport, and for food for myself or those less fortunant when hunters used to be able to donate meat to food banks if it passed inspection. Something that sadly can no longer be done in many places due to nannisms from the state. I have seen the effects of overpopulation on many animals and that alone would have been enough to make me a hunter were I not already. Sickly, weak, losing fear of man and his works, and of course the affect on other animals and their shared enviroment.

Man was not born with claw, tooth, strength, or speed to match most dangerous critters or even the not so dangerous so we adapted and overcame that with the rifle and continued to evolve it to its current form which is more than capable of preforming a reasonably humane kill compared to being ran down and chomped on by natural predators. Again I recommend Jeff Cooper’s writings with can be found online in part or in many books for those inclined to increase their library.

This was a very well written article and I hope to see more like it on this site.

43 RandyW January 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm

DannyP and others on this thread were right. Those of you saying you’re not anti hunters, have to be anti hunters under the guise of a sportsmen. No true sportsman could ever be that naive.
The Big 5 is arguably one of sportsmen’s biggest wins. It’s hunting and sportsmen almost exclusively who have saved most of the Big 5 from extinction in some areas through the purchase of these hunts.
And if you follow Steve at all, you’d know those things. No one has done a better job of telling the true story of these great animals than he has on his TV show. And he uses fact, not emotion to prove it.
Time and time again it has been proven that in areas where hunting is allowed for elephant, for instance, it has brought this great beast from near critical levels to the point of overpopulation. Monies paid for those permits goes back to conservation. And much of the income from the hunt stays in the local area, providing jobs and meat for the villagers.
Locals are now protecting the animals as an asset instead of poaching the resource to survive. And the poachers that remain, now have to worry about the locals turning them in or worse.
Sportsmen know all those things. Antis argue with the naivety and emotion that comes from listening to catch phrases and provided lines from groups like PETA.
If you really want to help animals, buy a hunting license, even if you don’t hunt. That money goes to conservation, not to solicit more money fro the charity or to fill some administrators deep pocket.
If you want to see where your money goes when you give to a charity, check out
It might surprise you to know how little of your donation goes to the animals when you write your check to PETA or the Humane Society of America.
Steve, you’re not trying to convert non-hunters in this thread. And I think you already knew that.
Instead of trying to prove you’re “manly”, why don’t you take the disguise off and tell us who you really are?
Or better yet, let me save you the time. A wise man once asked me, if I were to be locked in a room full of anti-hunters for a week, could they ever convince me that hunting was wrong? The obvious answer was, “Not a chance. I know the truth from experience.”
He then asked me why I wasted time trying to do the same with anti-hunters?
If you are anti-hunters on this thread, save yourself the headache. You’ll never convince us either. It’s like trying to teach a Lion to be a vegetarian.

44 Dan January 2, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Steve Scott – thanks for the follow up. The presumed “wastefulness” of trophy hunting is my personal objection to the idea; I’d love to go on a safari…with my camera. For those that hunt for sport, I’m glad that at least some effort is made to put the results to good use. There are other sports, and I’m not sure how the NFL actually helps any community it’s found in, so, this gives the hunters a leg up in that comparison.

I found myself nodding in agreement with several comments – some of which were in opposition to each other. I am Man. I retain my right to be inconsistent. Having said that, the most disappointing element of this article is the lack of gentlemanliness of some of the comments. Can we please state our positions, or offer opposing views, without the rudeness and critical comments? There’s no call to insult or criticize other’s comments. To paraphrase an old friend, “be prepared to defend your view; but do so with gentleness and respect.”

Thank you.

45 David F January 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Where to start? The ignorance of the anti’s comments above including a few supposedly living in Africa is just breath taking!
To you Ray S, the shameful content here is yours as you conveniently fail to mention that since Kenya stupidly banned hunting in 1977, over 70% of the wild animals of all specicies in your country have been KILLED by natives/poachers for meat as they no longer are perceived to have any value otherwise. Check the facts, I know what I am talking about. Sure, you have a few animals walking around in game preserves, but you are truly pathetic if you think the hunting ban has resulted in anything less than the mass slaughter of millions of animals in Kenya.
To you NormalAbby, I suspect those game ranches you have such disdain for provide a lot more jobs and food to your fellow countrymen than you do, eh?
It is just amazing how every one of the negative comments above are made by folks who obviously have no knowledge of the subject matter or actual facts, just spewing raw emotions coming from a dark place you dont even understand……
Safari Club International’s slogan is “hunting is conversation”. This is a profound truth as Mr. Scott and others have explained above. If this is an inconvenient truth for those of you that are against hunting, too damn bad, go hug trees and sip your latte somewhere else.

46 Nick January 5, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Reading this column has motivated me to go on a hunt to Africa. I did not realize how affordable it was and it can actually help the survival of species. It would make a good father-son trip.

47 Adam January 6, 2013 at 10:50 am

I will concede that I am not entirely aware of the laws of individual African countries or international law on the application of the Endangered Species Act, but I was surprised to learn from this article that one can go and hunt severely endangered animals such as lions and elephants so long as they pay the “trophy” fee. Scott, is this at all accurate or did you mention the “Big 5″ idealize the idea of an African safari a little bit? You mention specific fees for gazelles and other deer like animals, but not the lion, elephant, or rhinoceros. I assume most professional hunters, that aren’t also poachers, are great conservationists as well, and do not condone the trophy hunting of such majestic and endangered species. Please provide some clarification on just how many of the “Big 5″ you have legally hunted or if it is even allowed at all.

I too have been fascinated with TR’s famous African safari and would love to have lived in a time where one could just go out and test there “mainlines” as they hunted lions for “science” as TR did, but I feel that it would be highly impractical if not illegal to do so today.

48 Jeff C. January 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm

As the first to write “I have nothing against hunting but…,” I’d like to clarify.

I’m a hunter — for dove, ducks and, if the population ever rebounds, quail. I’m uninterested in deer or other four-legged animals.

I simply made the obvious point that photo safaris are far cheaper than game hunts and have great value. I know I’ll never forget mine.

That said, I sensed a touch of superiority coming from the hunting side — as if the photo safaris are of no benefit to the country. The ground portion of my safari cost about $4,500 in 1997 dollars. I’m sure that put some cash in the economy, and similar trips do so today.

Moreover, far more folks go on photo safaris than hunts, so I have to wonder if hunting really puts more money in the economy than photography (I’m just asking; don’t get your panties in a wad).

Regardless, all of this moralizing — from both sides — is horse****.

Construct you own moral code, live by it, and don’t impose it on others. This ain’t rocket surgery.

49 James January 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

The problem with this post isn’t hunting, and while I’m not an expert on contemporary hunting safari practices I am a Ph.D. student working on issues of aid and development in the African context. I am doubtful that the economic defense of the industry presented by the author in the comments is wholly accurate (though it may be). However, if it is it’s pretty astonishing that most international development folks don’t think too highly of the industry. I’d need to see some evidence to believe it. Having said that, the real problem of this post, which is often lingering underneath the surface of this site but which is usually handled pretty well in my opinion, is the linking of “manliness” to this historic practices with not-so-good histories. In this case it is a practice which is so intimately tied to a horrible history of colonialism, racism, and exploitation. In reclaiming certain visions of masculinity there is often the danger of becoming the people in Mad Men – i.e., horribly misogynistic and racist people. I’m not suggesting westerners hunting in Africa is ipso facto illegitimate, immoral, racist, or exploitative. I am suggesting, however, that Roosevelt, Hemingway, and others like them were, and that we should seriously consider the idea that reclaiming that heritage is a bad idea.

50 Steve Scott (author) January 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm

It is gratifying there have been so many sincere and thoughtful comments about safari hunting, but it is clear many questions were left unanswered in the article.

The focus of the piece was your “first” African safari, which is almost always for plains game. Dangerous game, or the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino) usually come later in a hunter’s experience, as they require a greater degree of care/skill, and are considerably more expensive than most antelope.

With that said, please understand that a great deal of what many of you “know” from media reports simply is not true. Despite what you have heard, most wildlife in Africa is thriving.
There are more species and numbers of animals in South Africa today than when the Dutch arrived at Cape Hope in the 17th Century. Changes in land use and ownership laws have transformed habitat-detrimental goat and cattle operations into prosperous game ranches. Revenue from international hunters provides the financial incentive to protect the native flora and fauna, which has created the African wildlife abundance we are experiencing today. And while the overall trend in African game is quite positive, questions have been raised specifically about “dangerous” game.

Today, elephants are OVERPOPULATED in many countries, including Botswana, and areas of Zimbabwe and South Africa. Though currently under assault by poachers, the white rhino has been restored to a population over 13,000 where a sustainable off-take is easily achieved. Leopard and buffalo are thriving throughout most of southern and east Africa, while lion numbers continue to be stable overall, with some populations growing as others decline. But before there is anymore misinformation about unregulated killing and slaughter, please be aware there is a mechanism in place to protect species from exploitation. It is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITIES.

CITIES is a United Nations treaty that the most every country on the planet is a signatory to, including the United States and most African nations. CITIES is a rigorously-enforced treaty that provides various degrees protection for species that are threatened or endangered. CITIES limits, for instance, the number of lions, mountain zebra, or elephants that can be harvested and exported annually from a particular country and is responsive by changing or closing quotas when populations rise or fall. Penalties for violation of CITIES can be severe, and our own enforcement agency, the US Fish & Wildlife Department, takes their enforcement responsibilities very seriously.

Though the harvest of plains game species far exceeds that of dangerous game, big game hunting produces significant revenues that inure to conservation. Lion and rhino hunts routinely exceed $100,000, while buffalo and leopard can be $25,000 and more. Interestingly, due to the abundance of elephants in hunting countries, elephant prices have come way down. Though some high-demand areas still command over $50,000, some elephant hunts can be had for less than $10,000, which is still a lot of money, but comparatively speaking, a hunting bargain.

A final note: though photographic safaris do provide important returns for African wildlife, the difference when compared to hunting revenue is significant. Tens of thousands of hunters travel to African each year, and you would be hard-pressed to find a single “on the ground” customer who spent less than $5000. Most antelope hunts are over five figures when the final bill is tallied, and we have already addressed the financial aspect of dangerous game. In addition, hunting operations often are conducted deep in the bush, in areas where photographic operations, due to the difficulty of terrain and conditions, seldom venture. Hunting brings financial and ecological benefits to indigenous people and wildlife that otherwise would not profit from foreign tourists.

Most of the pro-hunting faction on this thread are not trying to assert our superiority; we are not. But through taxes, licenses, and fees, hunters have paid, and continue to pay, the vast majority of the cost of conservation in the modern world. When Man and wildlife are in conflict, Man is always the ultimate winner. In a world that is seven billion people and growing, wildlife will be required to pay its own way to survive. Hunting provides the highest and best use for wildlife by creating in that wildlife, the greatest economic value.

51 James January 8, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Steve, for what it’s worth, I’ve found you to be a very gracious interlocutor who is also clear and firm about your stance. It’s refreshing!

52 Zach January 9, 2013 at 1:21 am

Far manlier than trophy hunting African big game is ensuring that these species will be around for future generations to appreciate. Out of the “big five” most are threatened and the black rhino is critically endangered. Only the cape buffalo is listed by the IUCN as “least concern”. It is quite unethical to hunt these species that are facing many pressures on their habitats aside from hunting. People argue that trophy fees help conservation efforts, but I would think donations would have the same benefit.

I have thou roughly enjoyed AoM to date, but I am very disappointed by the message that this post sends. I think you should invite someone from the World Wildlife Fund or similar organization to do a post about the manly virtues of wildlife conservation.

53 N G January 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Here’s a post I put on a personal finance forum about my first safari. I budgeted it pretty tight, so even with shipping my trophies, it came fare under the average.

Zach, (post #52), please note that World Wildlife Fund is a pro sport hunting organization. For their input see:

Also note that as the author notes in post #50, while costs plains game can be a few thousand, or even less subtracting plane fair, Big 5 hunts will cost $25k and upwards just for the trophy fee with other costs easily spanning over $100k. That is from one hunt for one animal. It will take a lot of donations to make up for that.

54 Jeff C. January 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Mr. Scott:

It is true that hunters spend much more per person than photographers on safari. It’s also true that hunting enhances conservation in areas where photo safaris can’t or won’t go. Hunting’s overall impact in Africa seems positive.

However, the assertion that total revenue from hunting is greater than for photography is incorrect. I found the following in an even-handed academic study in 2006. The study supports much of what you wrote — except for the total revenue claim (sorry for the long link).

Biological Observation

“Photographic ecotourism undoubtedly generates greater gross revenues than trophy hunting in Africa, and where large numbers of tourists visit, employment opportunities for local people can be higher than from hunting. For example, Tanzanian National Parks receive US$11 million/year from photo- graphic tourism just from the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, whereas the Tanzanian Wildlife Division receives only US$10.5 million/year from hunting throughout Tanzania (Thirgood et al., 2006). However, hunting revenues are significant because they enable wildlife production to be a viable land use across a wider range of land uses than would be possible relying on revenues from photographic ecotour- ism.”

I’m sorry if it seems I’m belaboring a point, but I couldn’t let it rest.

55 Jeff C. January 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I left out the section number, which is 4.6.

56 N G January 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Jeff, your quote of the article would indicate that there is a case for both industries to exist.

57 Zach January 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm

N G,

The WWF makes it quite clear in the article you reference that, “WWF urges that for threatened or endangered species, all other conservation incentives and activities be fully explored before considering hunting them for trophies.”

I think a concerted strategy of economic development for rural areas combined with alternative conservation approaches (other than trophy hunting) for endangered species is a better approach.

The argument that trophy hunting provides jobs in the form of trackers, skinners, etc. is not a valid argument by itself. There are plenty of other jobs that have become obsolete due to progress (think telegraph operator or milkman); I see no reason why “elephant hide skinner” shouldn’t be added to that list.

My point is that it is unethical and an irresponsible action as stewards of our natural resources for future generations to hunt, as trophies, animals that are threatened or endangered.

58 Jeff C. January 10, 2013 at 11:16 am


Are you prepared to tell some desperately poor African trying to feed his kids that he cannot be a hide skinner because you think trophy hunting is unethical and irresponsible?

It personally doesn’t appeal to me, but I don’t think it’s right to tell somebody to adopt my moral code, ethics, religion etc. Those are personal decisions that shouldn’t be the sole basis for a public policy that affects everyone.

The facts are pretty plain. Photo safaris help create local revenue and jobs in Africa. Hunting helps a bit more, plus it helps maintain habitat that would otherwise turn into farming. Is that so wrong?

59 elmo iscariot January 10, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I’m very proud of the editors of AoM for running this article, when they must have suspected the backlash from a segment of their readers. Very manly indeed, gentlemen. Keep up the good work.

60 N G January 10, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Of course other conservation efforts should be made first. You can’t hunt an animal in its native habitat if there’s no habitat left. But as the author notes, there are places in Africa where elephants are OVERpopulated. There are breeding preserves that will give you an elephant for free if you can transport it to someplace you can feed it. It costs $65,000 to relocate a single grey wolf in North America. Can you imagine what it costs to move an elephant herd?

After an animal has sired several dozen cubs/calves over the years, the tens of thousands of dollars from his trophy fee will go a long way in preserving his progeny’s habitat so they’re around for people to take pictures of.

61 Atwater Village Newbie January 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Shooting at helpless animals is just about the least manly thing you can do.

62 Tim Garner January 21, 2013 at 10:35 am

The experience of hunting cannot ever be explained to a non-hunter. As most of us motorcycle riders say, “If I have to explain, you would not understand.” The benefits of hunting are too numerous to mention in this short space, and the simple fact that controlled hunting in Africa and in the USA has actually increased most of the animal population will never be understood or believed by a non-hunter. If you are a hunter, the thrill and challenge of hunting in Africa is well beyond anything imaginable. I have hunted in Wyoming and throughout the South, and nothing compares to Africa. The best part is you do not have to be an experienced hunter to hunt in Africa. Most of the guide services will design a trip to fit your hunting exerience. For example, I was an inexperienced and rather new deer hunter when I went on my first trip to Africa. I had been a bird hunter most of my life, and I was very nervous and anxious about hunting in Africa. The trip turned out to be one of the most truly incredible experiences of my life. So much so that I went back the second time. Regardless of whether you hunt with a gun or a camera, Africa is a wonderful trip and is easier and more affordable than you may think.

63 Tito West February 18, 2013 at 10:26 am

For those of you interested in planning a safari, please feel free to shoot me an email. I design safaris tailored to fit each individual client’s needs and would be happy to help you plan a trip. I spent a little over a year working all of over Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia) as an apprentice professional hunter. I return to Africa yearly in order to continue my apprenticeship and help lead hunts. When back in the states, my time is devoted to arranging safaris for clients.

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