Biltong hunters hit by rising costs

Biltong hunters are undertaking fewer trips and hunting less game, yet spending more doing so, according to the National Profile and Economic Impact of Biltong Hunters in South Africa 2015 report. Gerhard Uys takes a closer look at this R10 billion industry.

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Biltong hunters’ average expenditure per season has increased from R16 565 to R20 328 in the past two years. The figures exclude the cost of game animals hunted.

This was according to the National Profile and Economic Impact of Biltong Hunters in South Africa 2015 report, published recently by North-West University.

The report also indicated a nearly 400% increase in spending by biltong hunters over the past decade. In 2005, biltong hunters spent [an average of] R4 130/season on hunting [expenses]. In 2015, this increased to R20 328/season.

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Expenditure on game animals increased 68%/ season from R11 633 in 2005 to R19 545/ season in 2015. This had resulted in hunters’ total average expenditure increasing from R15 752/season in 2005 to R39 873/ season in 2015, the report stated.

This increase could be attributed to the escalation in South Africa’s inflation rate during the past 10 years, according to the authors.

The study was conducted by Prof Melville Saayman and Prof Peet van der Merwe of North-West University’s School of Business Management tourism programme.

The report was compiled from 493 questionnaires completed by hunters on the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association’s website.

“The top five game species hunted in 2015 were springbok (21%), impala (17%), warthog (12%), blesbok (12%), and kudu (8%),” the report said. It stated that the average prices paid in 2015 were R944 for springbok, R1 413 for impala, R1 452 for blesbok and R693 for warthog. The respondents collectively hunted 4 237 head of game during this period.

Each hunter undertook an average of 2,7 hunting trips in 2015, which was lower than in previous years, indicating that
the economic downturn was having an effect on hunters’ behaviour.

According to Van der Merwe, hunters had been undertaking fewer hunting trips per year since 2005, and the report predicted that they would hunt fewer head of game per trip in future.

The report showed that in 2013, when the previous report was published, hunters went on an average of three trips per year.
Hunting trips were undertaken for the total experience of being in nature and not simply to acquire meat for consumption, Van der Merwe said.

Colour variants not a drawcard
The report indicated that hunters did not show any preference for hunting artificially selected colour variant game.

Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly, Van der Merwe said that there was no consensus on whether the prices of colour variant game was influencing the price of game for biltong hunting.

“My feeling is that it can have an impact on species such as impala and springbok, because they are used for breeding colour variants, and this can increase demand.”

He said that the drought might have an impact on prices towards the end of 2016.

In 2015, hunting accommodation generated R759 million, followed by transport (R631 million), and meat processing (R495 million).

Hunters spent a further R482 million on hunting supplies and equipment, R355 million on ammunition, R379 million on food, and R234 million on daily fees. In 2015, the total economic contribution of game animals hunted was R3,9 billion.

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Gerhard Uys grew up as a real city lad, but spends his free time hiking and visiting family farms. He learnt the journalism trade as a freelance writer and photographer in the lifestyle industry, but having decided that he will be a cattle farmer by the age of 45 he now indulges his passion for farming by writing about agriculture. He feels Farmer’s Weekly is a platform for both developed and emerging farmers to learn additional farming skills and therefore takes the job of relaying practical information seriously.