Rhino poaching costs SA R1.1bn

The Professional Hunting Association of South Africa says the figure only includes losses to hunting.

White rhino. Picture: Big Game Parks.

JOHANNESBURG - The Professional Hunting Association of South Africa says the economic cost of rhino poaching to the country is at least R1.1 billion.

The association's CEO Adri Kitshoff says the figure was reached simply by looking at the loss to the hunting industry.

She says it's not currently possible to look at other potential losses, meaning the full cost could be much higher.

"There are really no other values in South Africa, for instance regarding the value as far as rhino being a tourist attraction."

Asked by 567 CapeTalk/Talk Radio 702's Bruce Whitfield how the association can continue to justify hunting, Kitshoff argued that hunting functions as "sustainable utilisation" and says the success of South African conservation can be attributed to continued hunting practices.

"The fact is that unless humans and wildlife benefit one another, our wildlife will cease to exist."

She argues that banning hunting has been shown to damage populations, citing a blanket ban on hunting in Kenya in 1978.

It resulted in an 85 percent drop in wildlife.

"Wildlife has value and therefore it will be conserved, looked after and managed by private wildlife branches and our government."

More than 700 rhino have been poached in South Africa since January.

The debate around hunting and rhino horn trade continues to rage on, with a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species gathering planned for 2016 in South Africa.

The conference will discuss trade and auctioning off the horns with the aim of lowering the incentive to poach.

To listen to the full interview with Adri Kitshoff, click here.