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Uganda to open its doors to big game hunters

Uganda, which suffered a 90 percent decline in large mammals during the 70s and 80s, has now lifted a decades-long ban on big game hunting, reports the AFP.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has stated that it hopes the lifting of the ban will raise additional tourism revenue by targeting wealthy foreigners. But conservationists contest that the large mammal population is not ready yet to sustain sports hunting.

“I would want to ask UWA: Where is your data and your information coming from? Just because some animals have moved out of a wildlife reserve doesn’t mean their numbers are strong enough for sport hunting,” Samuel Maina from WildlifeDirect, told AFP. He also stated that Uganda’s decision may backfire on the country with eco-tourists less likely to visit a country where such hunting is occurring.

The UWA has said that the hunting will not occur in protected lands, and that game hunting will help lower numbers of African buffalo and elephants, which can damage crops when they migrate out of reserves.

Big game hunting currently occurs in other African countries, such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Tanzania. Many species are targets: elephants, zebras, hippos, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, warthogs, leopards, crocodiles, numerous antelope species, and even the Critically Endangered black rhino.

Proponents of big game hunting say that the sport supports conservation efforts, including providing habitat that may otherwise be converted into agriculture.

Most big game hunters in Africa are from the United States. Killing an elephant can cost upwards of 20,000 dollars, a lion 10,000 dollars, and a cheetah around 4,000 dollars. In some countries one can shoot a baboon for less than 100 dollars.

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