Marketing will be the key to better profits

Hunter prices have marginally increased in the past five years and are unlikely to increase much at this stage, said Arthur Rudman, an Eastern Cape representative of Wildlife Ranching SA and the Professional Hunters’ Association of SA.

However, 2011 looks good with bookings for April to September full, which is welcomed because the financial results and off-take for the 2010 season was about 30% down on 2009 after clients had moved their June/July 2010 hunts to 2011 or 2012, due to the World Cup.” Americans tend to book their hunts 18 months prior to safaris, while Spaniards book six months before coming, explained Rudman.

The struggling Spanish economy has resulted in poor bookings. But with economies sound in the Scandinavian countries, Danes in particular are hunting regularly. “Despite some uncertainty, it’s safe to say that marketing of the wildlife industry is getting increasingly sophisticated and competition worldwide is strengthening.

“We must bear in mind that South Africa is just one of many countries where clients can hunt,” said Rudman. Also, outfitter marketing costs are about 25% of turnover when fully booked, with costs for adverts, travel, accommodation, donations and commissions extremely high. “Lodge infrastructure, meals, vehicles, staff, trophy availability, guide quality, skinning and so on, must be of a very high standard to warrant returns and referrals.

“Clients are on a holiday with their families and wish to enjoy their time hunting good quality trophies and with good hospitality at night. “More than ever, clients want to hunt with a reputable outfitter,” said Rudman.

Farmers and professional hunting outfitters will decide on prices for the coming 2011 season during international shows and conventions taking place in January and February.Factors negatively affecting hunting in South Africa include unfriendly legislation, tardy issuing of permits by the environmental affairs department and anti-hunting and wildlife activists interfering with investors’ ability to create jobs in the industry, said Rudman.