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Spatial variation in trophy quality of popular hunted ungulate species in South Africa

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A database of approximately 9000 trophy measurements of ungulates hunted in South Africa between 1993 and 2001 was analysed in order to detect species-specific, regional variation in mean trophy quality. Blesbok (Damaliscus dorcas), eland (Taurotragus oryx), impala (Aepyceros melampus), kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula) and springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) showed statistically significant variation in trophy quality. A number of other species including blue wildebeest (Connochaetus taurinus), black wildebeest (Connochaetus gnou), bushbuck (Tragelaphus angusticeps), common reedbuck (Redunca redunca), gemsbok (Oryx grazella), red hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus), nyala (Tragelaphus angasit) and waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) were insignificant. The manipulation of trophy quality on ranches is speculated to be the major cause of these significant regional variations. It is recommended that species-specific baselines of trophy quality and associated levels of acceptable manipulation be established and incorporated into a national trophy quality monitoring programme to provide some level of protection to an industry that contributes significantly to the South African economy.
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Spatial variation in trophy quality of
popular hunted ungulate species in
South Africa
Rainer G. von Brandis & Brian K. Reilly*
Department of Nature Conservation, Tshwane University of Technology, Private Bag X680, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa
Received 25 June 2007. Accepted 5 February 2008
A database of approximately 9000 trophy measurements of ungulates hunted in South Africa
between 1993 and 2001 was analysed in order to detect species-specific,regional variation in
mean trophy quality. Blesbok (
Damaliscus dorcas
), eland (
Taurotragus oryx
), impala
(
Aepyceros melampus
), kudu (
Tragelaphus strepsiceros
), mountain reedbuck (
Redunca
fulvorufula
) and springbok (
Antidorcas marsupialis
) showed statistically significant
variation in trophy quality. A number of other species including blue wildebeest
(
Connochaetus taurinus
), black wildebeest (
Connochaetus gnou
), bushbuck (
Tragelaphus
angusticeps
), common reedbuck (
Redunca redunca
), gemsbok (
Oryx gazella
), red
hartebeest (
Alcelaphus buselaphus
), nyala (
Tragelaphus angasii
) and waterbuck (
Kobus
ellipsiprymnus
) were insignificant. The manipulation of trophy quality on ranches is specu-
lated to be the major cause of these significant regional variations. It is recommended that
species-specific baselines of trophy quality and associated levels of ‘acceptable manipula-
tion’be established and incorporated into a national trophy quality monitoring programme to
provide some level of protection to an industry that contributes significantly to the South Af-
rican economy.
Key words: trophy quality, trophy hunting, variation, ungulates, manipulation.
INTRODUCTION
Trophy hunting is regarded as a ‘sport’ and in-
volves hunting by paying hunters, primarily foreign
ecotourists, typically with the objectives of selecting
animals with exceptional attributes such as horns,
tusks, body size and skull length (Lindsey
et al.
2006b). In the case of ungulates, trophy quality is
attributed to the product of the dimensions and the
aesthetic appeal of the animals’ horns. Potential
hunting clients often select hunting destinations
based on the diversity and quality of trophies on
offer (Pretorius 1988; Lindsey
et al.
2006b). Given
the lack of an unbiased database of trophy
measurements in South Africa, investigations of
regional variation in trophy quality are often based
on biased and subjective information.For instance,
official trophy hunting record books only publish
trophies that are above a given minimum size and
consequently are biased in favour of those regions
supporting well-established trophy hunting indus-
tries. In this paper, an unbiased database of
approximately 9000 trophies hunted between
1993 and 2001 is analysed with a view of providing
an objective appraisal of regional mean trophy
quality in South Africa.
METHODS
An existing database of 4300 trophies, measured
using the Roland Ward measuring technique
(Halse 1998), was made available by Rodney
Kretchmar of the Trans African Taxidermists1.A
further 5300 trophies were measured using the
SCI measuring technique (Quimby 1999). Data
collection required regular visits to three taxidermies
in Gauteng Province namely; Nico van Rooyen
Taxidermy2, Highveld Taxidermists3and Trans
African Taxidermists. All trophies were hunted in
South Africa between 1993 and 2001 and were
randomly selected by the authors for measuring.
Even though both trophy measuring techniques
employ a combination of morphometric horn
measurements in the calculation of a ‘total score’
to depict standard trophy quality, different vari-
ables are used in these calculations. Correlation
coefficient tests determined significant associa-
tions between the ‘longest horn’ measurement and
the total scores of all species included in the study.
As a result, the combination of the databases was
South African Journal of Wildlife Research 38(1): 17–21 (April 2008)
*To whom correspondence should be addressed.
E-mail: reillybk@tut.ac.za
1Trans African Taxidermists CC, P.O. Box 740, Muldersdrift,
1747 South Africa.
2Nico van Rooyen Taxidermy, P.O. Box 911-217, Rosslyn, Pretoria,
0020 South Africa.
3Highveld Taxidermists, P.O. Box 34242, Erasmia, Pretoria,
0023 South Africa.
achieved through the use of the longest horn mea-
surement as a common variable of both measure-
ment techniques.
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to
investigate the significance of regional variations
in trophy quality (ZAR 1996).Descriptive statistics
were used to depict individual mean trophy values
and their 95% confidence intervals in relation to
overall national means.Where the sum of individual
means and their respective confidence intervals
fell either above or below the national mean, values
were regarded as ‘above’ or ‘below average’
(Fowler
et al.
1998).
RESULTS
Of the 20 included South African species, six
showed significant regional variation in mean
‘longest horn’ measurements, blesbok (
Damalis-
cus dorcas
)(
F
6,513 = 2.64,
P
< 0.05), eland (
Tauro-
tragus oryx
)(
F
5,141 = 2.82,
P
< 0.05), impala
(
Aepyceros melampus
)(
F
8,1721 = 4.06
P
< 0.001),
kudu (
Tragelaphus strepsiceros
)(
F
6,324 = 5.94,
P
< 0.01), mountain reedbuck (
Redunca fulvoru-
fula
)(
F
6,189 = 5.48,
P
< 0.001) and springbok
(
Antidorcas marsupialis
)(
F
8,1174 = 3.12,
P
< 0.01).
Eight species results including; blue wildebeest
(
Connochaetus taurinus
), black wildebeest
(
Connochaetus gnou
), bushbuck (
Tragelaphus
angusticeps
), common reedbuck (
Redunca
redunca
), gemsbok (
Oryx gazella
), red hartebeest
(
Alcelaphus buselaphus
), nyala (
Tragelaphus
angasii
) and waterbuck (
Kobus ellipsiprymnus
)
were not significantly different between regions.
The remaining six species were not analysed any
18 South African Journal of Wildlife Research Vol. 38, No. 1, April 2008
Fig. 1. Mean ‘longest horn’ measurement for blesbok by region in South Africa from a sample of trophy-hunted
animals collected between 1993 and 2001.
Fig. 2. Mean ‘longest horn’measurement for eland by region in South Africa from a sample of trophy-hunted animals
collected between 1993 and 2001.
further as they provided fewer than 100 observa-
tions. These species included; bontebok (
Dama-
liscus dorcas
), red lechwe (
Kobus leche
), roan
antelope (
Hippotragus equinus
), sable antelope
(
Hippotragus niger
), tsessebe (
Damaliscus
lunatus
) and buffalo (
Syncerus caffer
).
DISCUSSION
The significant variation in regional mean trophy
quality, especially in those species most commonly
hunted, is of concern. Even though some degree
of spatial variation is to be expected as certain
regions are most certainly better able to provide
optimum spatio-temporal requirements for some
species over others, the highly significant levels
determined here may warrant further investigation
at an individual species level. The time-scale and
sampling demands associated with establishing
the exact causes of these variations empirically are
unrealistic and therefore beyond the scope of
this paper. To some extent, variation may be
related to persistent environmental conditions
and/or characteristics of specific regions. For
instance, van Schalkwyk (1999) suggested that
the nutritional quality and availability of food
and water may affect horn growth. However, such
relationships are difficult to test and consequently,
little data are available. Moreover, it is highly
unlikely that environmental parameters alone
could account for the high levels of variability
determined between certain regions. Indeed, in
Tanzania, which is a large country incorporating a
diversity of habitat types and where hunting mostly
occurs on large unfenced concessions, insignificant
regional variation in mean trophy quality was evi-
dent (von Brandis 2004). Trophy hunting in South
Africa primarily occurs on private ranches (Damm
2005; Lindsey
et al.
2006a) and game ranches are
von Brandis & Reilly: Variation of trophy quality of hunted ungulate species 19
Fig. 3. Mean ‘longest horn’measurement for impala by region in South Africa from a sample of trophy-hunted animals
collected between 1993 and 2001.
Fig. 4. Mean ‘longest horn’measurement for kudu by region in South Africa from a sample of trophy-hunted animals
collected between 1993 and 2001.
fenced and relatively small (mean size = 2.047
hectares (Bothma 2005)), it is perhaps more plausi-
ble to assume that the foremost cause of these
variations or lack of variation is human manipula-
tion. The manipulation of trophy quality on game
ranches is achieved through selective breeding,
the translocation of desirable trophy animals and
the adaptation of their habitat. The lack of control of
game translocations may certainly be a primary
driver of lack of variation in some species and
more than normal regional variation in others.
Such practice is commonplace in South Africa
and in some cases, it has resulted in undesirable
outcomes such as hybridization, inbreeding and
the establishment of artificial subspecies through
the breeding of animals with recessive traits
(Hamman
et al.
2003).
It is important to recognize that although stable/
slightly increasing trophy quality should have posi-
tive effects on the hunting industry, the manipu-
lation of trophy quality beyond ‘acceptable’ levels
should be avoided. Firstly, through the incessant
manipulation of trophy quality and the resultant
genetic deviation from natural evolutionary path-
ways, the biological integrity of some species may
be compromised. Secondly, over-manipulation
may incite trophy hunting enthusiasts to draw
distinctions between ‘manipulated’ and ‘natural’
trophy populations potentially resulting in a shift
in the African trophy hunting market towards coun-
tries offering more ‘free-range’ hunting opportuni-
ties.
In some cases, variation in mean trophy quality
between regions was as high as 25% (compare
eland in the Eastern Cape and the Free State) and
if one questions which of the two means best
represents the ‘natural’ trophy quality of that
species, no rational answer is at hand, since there
20 South African Journal of Wildlife Research Vol. 38, No. 1, April 2008
Fig. 5. Mean ‘longest horn’ measurement for mountain reedbuck by region in South Africa from a sample of trophy-
hunted animals collected between 1993 and 2001.
Fig. 6. Mean ‘longest horn’ measurement for springbok by region in South Africa from a sample of trophy-hunted
animals collected between 1993 and 2001.
is a lack of a fundamental baseline. Over previous
decades, trophy quality may have fallen victim to
the ‘shifting baseline syndrome’ which is described
as the tendency of researchers and managers to
use data gathered at the beginning of their careers
as the baseline against which to measure change
(Pauly 1995). If this syndrome exists throughout a
number of generations, shifting baselines result in
long-term monotonic trends that are guided by
human influences rather than natural evolutionary
processes. Unfortunately, there exists no unbiased
historical trophy quality databases and it is there-
fore not possible to allocate a realistic baseline of
natural trophy quality to any ungulate species. In
the face of increasing manipulation of trophy
quality in South Africa, it is imperative that an
objective baseline be created for all trophy species
and that trends in mean trophy quality are moni-
tored and guided carefully. Species-specific
trophy quality means calculated in this study may
be used as a foundation in developing a model
aimed at monitoring future trends in trophy quality
on both a spatial and temporal scale. Furthermore,
the upper and lower limits of ‘acceptable change’
in trophy quality should be outlined and incorpo-
rated in the model and used as triggers of ‘ thresh-
olds of concern’ when trends exceed these
thresholds.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors thank the taxidemists who took part
in the study and Andre DeGeorges, formerly from
Safari Club International’s Africa Office for funding
the project.
REFERENCES
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HALSE, A 1998. Roland Ward’s records of big game,
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von Brandis & Reilly: Variation of trophy quality of hunted ungulate species 21
Corresponding Editor: J. Blignaut
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... A regression analysis was used to analyse trends in trophy size across the study species and over years following von Brandis and Reilly (2008). Trophy size value of each of the recorded four big game species was divided by the respective minimum trophy size required to determine the hunting effort and quota set to ensure sustainable Fig. 1 Location of Chewore South Safari Area (CSSA), northern Zimbabwe. ...
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... The competitiveness of a trophy hunting destination may be indirectly affected by the trophy quality of the favoured wildlife species [8,12]. Trophy quality is a function of dimensions and the aesthetic appearance of the trophy depending on the species [13]. ...
... Our results showed a declining trend in trophy size in Cape buffalo trophies over time in Malapati Safari Area. Similar declines in Cape buffalo trends were also reported in Sengwa Wildlife Research Area, northwest Zimbabwe [32], as well as in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, and South Africa [12]. The declines in Cape buffalo trophy size could be attributed to the harvesting regimes and trophy hunting pressure [8]. ...
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... Temporal and spatial trophy quality changes may have adverse effects on the sustainability of the hunting industry (von Brandis and Reilly, 2007). Declines in trophy quality of preferred wildlife species have been reported in sub-Saharan Africa (Crosmary et al., 2013;Loveridge et al., 2009;Nuzzo and Traill, 2013;von Brandis and Reilly, 2008;Wilfred, 2012). Nonetheless, Wilfred (2012) argues that negative trends in trophy quality will certainly illicit similar trends in the economy since the trophy hunting market aligns itself with those countries producing superior trophy animals. ...
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... Comparative statistical analysis of trophy registries by Von Brandis (2008) revealed little difference between tsessebe trophies from South Africa 13,2-13,9" (mean 13,5") and from Botswana 13,8-14,7" (mean 14,2") -both these subpopulations are of limited size and presumably of low genetic variation. Interest in tsessebe breeding only started in recent years and are well behind the major of other game species in the Industry. ...
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Citation: Furstenburg, D. 2016. Tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus lunatus) Management. In: Eds. Pamela Oberem, The New Game Rancher. BRIZA Publisher, Pretoria. p 205-210. ISBN 978-1-920217-62-4 ...... Speciation Tsessebe, not related to any of the other hartebeest species, but related to the blesbok Damaliscus dorcas; and thus the Afrikaans Boer-name " basterhartbees " meaning a crossed hartebeest. Tsessebe is named after the old Tswana-name " tshêsêbe ". Past Cape Colonials called it sassaby. It is classed in the family Bovidae, subfamily Antilopinae, tribe Alcelaphini, genus Damaliscus which has two species namely  Damaliscus pygargus, formerly known as D. dorcas, with two subspecies o D.p. phillipsi the blesbok and D.p. pygargus the bontebok  Damaliscus lunatus with six subspecies o D.l. lunatus the tsessebe of southern Africa o D.l. tiang the tiang of the eastern regions of the Sahel o D.l. topi the topi of Tanzania o D.l. jimela the East coast topi of Somalia and Kenya
... However, if motivation for hunting is mainly exceptional trophy quality, a resultant decline in this desirable attribute may reduce hunter satisfaction [27, 28] and loss of income, to the detriment of conservation and the livelihoods of many local communities depending on wildlife resources. Although the significance of trophy hunting in Africa is well documented, very little attention has been given to trends in trophy quality in African wildlife species other than lions (Panthera leo) [25,29303132. In Zimbabwe, a decline in the trophy quality of three hunted gregarious herbivores, impala (Aepyceros melampus), greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and sable (Hippotragus niger) in Matetsi hunting area has been noticed [30]. ...
Article
Long term monitoring of population estimates and trophy size trends is requisite to ensure that trophy hunting is sustainable. We explored the influence of trophy hunting on population size and trophy quality of impala (Aepyceros melampus), greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and sable (Hippotragus niger) antelopes from 1997 to 2014 in Cawston Ranch, Zimbabwe. Population estimates of the three species showed a cyclical declining trend, albeit being statistically insignificant for the three species. Hunting pressure had no significant effect on the population estimates of the three species for the period 1997-2014. Impala population declined (-30 %) between 2003 and 2008 possibly due to increased illegal hunting pressure associated with land invasions during this period. Trophy size of all species declined over time, 2004-2014, (impala (-1.3 %), kudu (-3.9 %), sable (-2.6 %) possibly due diet quality and loss of genetic variability in these populations. However, trophy size for greater kudu and sable were within the minimum score range of the Safari Club International. We recommend research on genetic variability and inbreeding levels of hunted populations in closed ecosystems to inform adaptive management as a way of ensuring sustainability of trophy hunting as a conservation tool in small isolated parks in Africa.
... However, hunting in South Africa mainly occurs on small and fenced private ranches (c. 2.05 ha on average, von Brandis & Reilly, 2008) where trophy quality is managed and manipulated, and is therefore not representative of trophy hunting over much of Africa. The richness of the African ungulate guild offers a unique opportunity to compare the effects of size-selective harvest on different species within the same ecosystem. ...
Article
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The persistence of large African herbivores in trophy hunting areas is still unclear because of a lack of data from long-term wildlife monitoring outside national parks. We compared population trends over the last 30 years in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, and the neighbouring Matetsi Safari Area where large herbivores were harvested at an average yearly rate of 2%. We investigated whether trophy hunting altered densities and the proportion of adult males in several large herbivore species. Large herbivores generally thrived as well, or even better, in the hunting areas than in the national park. The proportion of adult males did not differ between the two zones, except for species with higher harvest rates and proportionally more males harvested. Densities were not lower in the hunting areas than in the national park, except for elephant and impala. Large herbivores generally declined throughout the 30-year period in both zones, particularly selective grazers. This is probably because of their greater sensitivity to variation in rainfall compared with other herbivores. Rainfall indeed declined during the study period with droughts being particularly frequent during the 1990s. Browsers, mixed feeders and non-selective grazers generally declined less in the hunting areas than in the national park, possibly because of lower densities of natural predators and elephants outside the park. Our study highlighted that large herbivores may persist in trophy hunting areas as well as in national parks. When rigorously managed, trophy hunting areas may be relevant conservation areas for large herbivores, particularly under the current global decline of wildlife abundance across Africa.
... Among ungulates, bovids are of particular interest. Species from this family play a central role in the bushmeat trade (Cowlishaw et al., 2005), and are important to the safari industry as trophy species (von Brandis & Reilly, 2008; Johnson et al., 2010). Further, some bovids are the cause of human-wildlife confl ict (Dunham et al., 2010; Nyahongo & Rskaft, 2011), and bovids certainly play an important role in ecosystem function (Hobbs, 1996; Du Toit & Cumming, 1999; Fritz et al., 2002). ...
Article
Given growing human populations, concomitant resource use, and habitat transformation, ungulates face the localised extinction of numerous populations. Among ungulates, bovids are particularly vulnerable as many species are harvested as bushmeat and have large home range requirements. Here we determined the extent of geographic distribution and species richness (extent of range overlap) for bovids (Order, Artiodactyla, Family, Bovidae, n = 129), and used the IUCN Redlist status of species to determine life history, ecological and anthropogenic correlates of decline (sourced through the PanTHERIA database). Based on the extent of range overlap, we found that bovid species richness is relatively high in the tropics, particularly across central and east Africa. We used generalised linear mixed models and multimodel inference to determine the parameters associated with extirpation, accounting for evolutionary relatedness (random effects). The best predictor of bovid extinction risk was body mass. Overall model deviance explained was low (3% for the global model), suggesting that localised correlates of population decline (not accounted for at a macro-ecological scale) may be key to conservation effort. Our work highlights the extraordinary diversity of bovid species in the tropics and provides insight into important correlates of decline across the family. We encourage the prioritisation of conservation resources toward tropical bovids, with emphasis on large and range-restricted species.
Article
There is a lack of consensus among conservationists as to whether trophy hunting represents a legitimate conservation tool in Africa. Hunting advocates stress that trophy hunting can create incentives for conservation where ecotourism is not possible. We assessed the hunting preferences of hunting clients who have hunted or plan to hunt in Africa (n=150), and the perception among African hunting operators (n=127) of client preferences at two US hunting conventions to determine whether this assertion is justified. Clients are most interested in hunting in well-known East and southern African hunting destinations, but some trophy species attract hunters to remote and unstable countries that might not otherwise derive revenues from hunting. Clients are willing to hunt in areas lacking high densities of wildlife or attractive scenery, and where people and livestock occur, stressing the potential for trophy hunting to generate revenues where ecotourism may not be viable. Hunting clients are more averse to hunting under conditions whereby conservation objectives are compromised than operators realize, suggesting that client preferences could potentially drive positive change in the hunting industry, to the benefit of conservation. However, the preferences and attitudes of some clients likely form the basis of some of the problems currently associated with the hunting industry in Africa, stressing the need for an effective regulatory framework.
Article
There is a lack of consensus among some conservation NGOs and African governments concerning the acceptability and effectiveness of trophy hunting as a conservation tool. This lack of consensus is due partly to a lack of reliable information on the economic significance and ecological impact of the industry. We provide a review of the scale of the trophy hunting industry, and assess both positive and negative issues relating to hunting and conservation in Africa. Trophy hunting occurs in 23 countries in Africa, with the largest industries occurring in southern Africa and Tanzania, where the industry is expanding. The trophy hunting industry has remained static or is shrinking in Central and West Africa. A minimum of 1,394,000 km2 is used for trophy hunting in sub-Saharan Africa, which exceeds the area encompassed by national parks. Trophy hunting is thus of major importance to conservation in Africa by creating economic incentives for conservation over vast areas, including areas which may be unsuitable for alternative wildlife-based land uses such as photographic ecotourism. However, there are a number of problems associated with the industry which limit conservation benefits. Several of these problems are common to multiple countries, suggesting that if solutions were developed, conservation benefits would accrue over large areas.
Article
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