Hunting in the Eastern Cape, thanks to a broad variety of wildlife, has developed into one of the region’s major industries, adding millions of rand to the economy each year.
This is the view of Gerhard Heyneke, chairman of the Eastern Cape branch of Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA), who said the area did not have to “stand back for any hunting destination”.
Attracting international and local hunters, he said the Eastern Cape contributed considerably to the R6.3-billion biltong industry income annually.
Furthermore, international trophy hunters added about R1-billion a year to the South African economy.
“The Eastern Cape is a wonderful place to hunt,” said Heyneke. “The variety of wildlife is the largest you can get in the world and there are established, quality hunting destinations in the Eastern Cape.”
For hunting and breeding purposes, he said the Eastern Cape did particularly well in a wide variety of game. According to him, these included buffalo, kudu, bushbuck, springbuck, blesbuck, zebra, nyala, wildebeest, impala, bontebok, oribi, blue duiker, roan, sable, rhino and elephant.
“The chief attractions of the Eastern Cape are the diversity and quality of the game, the pristine nature and scenery and the fact that it is a malaria-free province.”
Heyneke added that Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) targeted overseas visitors as well as the local populace, contributing about R20-billion to the country’s economy.
“Our market is for everyone to benefit. We support the economy in both hunting and eco-tourism. For example, wildlife ranchers produce 120 000 tonnes of game meat per year.”
With WSRA having been formed in 2006, Heyneke said the next step was to develop the industry as a major export product for the Eastern Cape.
“Plans are in place for this to happen and local markets in the Eastern Cape will develop a lot in the near future,” he said.
“During 2016 the Eastern Cape formed three new chapters in the Grahamstown, Graaff-Reinet and East London areas to enhance game farming in the Eastern Cape.”
The Eastern Cape chairman said there were approximately 1 200 ranchers in the province, including farmers who dealt with game as well as other commodities.
“The game industry creates many other markets that grow in conjunction to the wildlife industry,” said Heyneke.
“Vets, clothing, rifle shops, meat processing, vehicles, skin factories, taxidermy, insurance, nutrition companies, magazines, festivals and auctions all form part of the industry.”
He said hunters were affiliated with several organisations such as the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA), SA Hunters and Confederation Hunters Association of South Africa (CHASA).
“Hunting packages are marketed internationally by attending fairs in various parts of the world, including America, Russia and Europe.
“In South Africa, the public know hunting lodges well and hunting trips are marketed locally in various magazines, websites and on social media.”
Heyneke said the game industry employed 140 000 people and still had a lot of development potential in South Africa.
“For example, we are attempting to produce R650-million of venison by 2020 and R7 200-million by 2030.”
He said another indication of the industry’s development was WRSA Eastern Cape’s plan to form two more chambers next year between Humansdorp and Bushmans River.
“The more farmers we include the better equipped we are to get relevant and important information to them to improve their farming practices.”
Caption: Rhinos form part of the extensive breeding industry in the Eastern Cape as part of the country’s wildlife game trade. Photo: Ryan Hillier