AMBODIA could make millions from carefully controlled sport hunting instead of
seeing rare species exterminated for a few dollars, safari guide Thor Thorsson
He pointed to the successful conservation of wildlife in South
Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana where he works as a prototype for the way
forward here in Cambodia.
In those countries a limited number of hunting
licenses are issued for protected species and international hunters are prepared
to pay huge amounts of money for them. A license to shoot a bull elephant in
Zimbabwe costs $17,000 and one for the extremely rare white rhino costs
Hunting expeditions over 12 to 16 days in the southern African
countries can run into tens of thousands of dollars for even relatively common
species, Thorsson said. Guides such as Thorsson charge $160 per person per day
for their services and by the time trackers and skinners, hotels, air tickets
and other payments are added in, costs creep up to $700-$1,000 per day. And that
is not including licenses and having trophies stuffed and mounted by
Yet there are hundreds of extremely wealthy hunters from
Europe, the United States and Australasia who are prepared to pay that kind of
money and Thorsson believes they could be attracted here, significantly boosting
He said: "A small exclusive hunting operation could be
organized in this country and trophy hunters invited to hunt one or two species
like sambar deer, the wild boar, muntjack deer and small barking deer. There is
enough wildlife in this country to sustain some activity.
"It is not just
the thrill of the hunt these people enjoy but the experience of being in the
And not all of the hunters, many of whom are registered with the
Tucson Arizona-based Safari Club International, carry guns. Some, for a lesser
fee, are happy to shoot wildlife with their camera only.
Thorsson pointed to the lushly forested and under populated eastern provinces of
Ratanakiri and Mondolkiri as ideal areas for sport hunting.
suggested that Cambodia could follow the African countries' lead in controlling
poaching. Under a scheme called Campfire some of the revenue from hunting
license is shared out with the nearest settlement to where a legal kill is made.
This provides a great incentive for villagers not to poach animals but leave
them to be hunted in a controlled way by foreign tourists.
Zimbabwe not only are there stiff jail terms of up to 14 years for poaching but
suspects can be shot if they refuse to obey rangers' orders. In the last three
years around 60-70 suspects have been killed.
Thorsson also urged
Cambodian conservationists to form a group to advise the government and press it
to pass legislation to protect wildlife.
In Zimbabwe the strict
conservation policies have been so successful that its elephant population has
grown to 80,000, perhaps 20,000 more than the remaining jungle land can
It also means legal hunting is desirable to control
the population, Thorsson said.