The Zambezi Valley Hunting Camp Auctions 2010-2013 in Zimbabwe
November 2013, Volume 11-5&6

The data presented here originate from information provided by the auctioneer responsible for coordinating the Zambezi Valley Hunting Camps on behalf of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZPWA).  These data have not been verified against the official results recorded by ZPWA or the auctioneer.  The data presented here should therefore be considered as a guide to the prices paid and not as official documentation. The data presented may not be published in any format without the permission of the author (vernonrbooth@gmail.com) however the article may be referenced provided the source is fully acknowledged.

The Zambezi Valley Hunting Camps have been auctioned to the general public since 1997.  In past years these were hotly contested by keen hunters from across the globe, including Zimbabwean citizens.  More recently these auctions are attended largely by South African agents and bidders.  Prior to 2009, al lots were sold in the Zimbabwe local currency but since then all lots are priced in United States dollars (US$) following the “dollarization” of the Zimbabwe economy. All buyers were required to pay 15% VAT plus 4% administration charges on the sale of the lots.  Hunting camps are offered in the Nykasanga and Sapi Hunting Areas.  The camps are for a fixed period of either 10-day or 14-day periods beginning in May.  A fixed quota of animals is allocated to each camp which usually includes one or more buffalo and impala.  Successful bidders can bid on additional animals to boost the number of animals on quota. These include for example, elephant, leopard crocodile and hippo.

The 42 camps are on offer in the Nykasanga Hunting Block provided 492 hunter days that generated approximately $1,711,400 between 2010 and 2013. The number of 14-day camps in 2013 was reduced from 18 to 9 reducing the available hunter days to 366.  This increased the average daily rate for these camps to US$1,031/day but reduced the overall income to ZPWA.  The 14-day camps (Chibonde and Mutoro) on average sold for $11,506 – $12,422 while the 10-day camps sold for $8708 – $11,304. Overall average daily rate paid for these big game camps varied from $846 – $1,031/day. The gross income generated from the sale of addition trophies has declined since 2010 by approximately 50%. This decline is a result of a combination of factors including reduced interest by buyers, reduced quotas, removal of animals on offer and the non-sale of trophies that did not meet the reserve process.  The overall income from the auction of the Nykasanga Camps and Trophies has declined from $770,695 in 2010 to $487,300 in 2013. This translates to approximately $1,566/day in 2010 to $1,289/day in 2012. The daily rate is slightly increased in 2013 as a result of there being 126 fewer hunter days.

There were 21 camps on offer in the Sapi Hunting Block provided 266 hunter days that has generated approximately $600,525 over the four years. Income for the Sapi camps has declined year-on-year from $180,900 to $105,000 in 2012 but recovered in 2013. On average the 14-day camps (Shomoshongo and Kamote) sold for $5,871 – $10,200 while the 10-day camps sold for $3,833 – $8,229. The overall daily rates for these big-game camps were $395 – $680/day which is approximately 50% of the value paid for the Nykasanga camps.

The range and number of additional trophies on offer in Sapi is also less than that available in Nykasanga. In particular, key trophies such as lion, leopard or buffalo are not made available.  In 2012 no additional elephant were included on the trophy quota but were re-instated in 2013. Plains game species such as waterbuck and bushbuck were not offered in 2013 nor were crocodile which have been popular in previous years. The unavailability of these trophies has impacted on the income generated for the ZPWA.

The overall income from the auction of the Sapi Camps and Trophies has declined from $243,240 in 2010 to $140,895 in 2012 but showed signs of recovery in 2013. This translates to approximately $914/day in 2010 to $530/day in 2012.  This is considerably less than what was achieved for Nykasanga. The low return for Sapi suggests that the big game hunting on offer is either being undervalued by the market or there are other factors that are influencing the low prices.
Overall 758 hunter days are available from the 63 camps on offer. The price of 14-day camps (n=32) declined from $10,372 to $8,428 between 2010 and 2012. The price has remained at this level for 2013.

By contrast, the price of 10-day camps has remained relatively stable, peaking at $10,229 on 2012 but dropping again in 2013. The gross income from the sale of trophies has declined from $383,235 in 2010 to $140,510 in 2012.  This decline can be most likely attributed to a lack of interest by the market combined with the reduction in the availability of key trophies such as lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant and the removal of plains game from the auction list.

Overall daily rate declined from $1,338 in 2010 to $1,023-$1,105 between 2011 and 2013. These rates are generally lower than representative rates achieved by the private sector for big game hunting. Overall the income to ZPWA has continued to decline year-on-year from $1,013,935 in 2010 to $698,610 in 2013.  This represents a significant drop in income from these auctions for the organization.

The average price for elephant has remained static at ~$15,000/trophy bull. Leopard and buffalo prices (~US$6,000) have remained above the market price offered in the private sector. Lion are not offered regularly in this auction format.  The price offered in 2013 (US$20,000) is 50% of that offered in 2010. The overall estimated gross income generated from Nyakasanga and Sapi is down on what was achieved since 2007 (US$1,274,288) and 2008 (US$1,082,336). The auctions discontinued offering minor species such as porcupine, bushpig, jackal, baboon and serval in 2012 but re-introduced some of these animals in 2013.

The question being asked is whether the Zambezi Valley Auction Hunts are losing their luster, and hence income for the ZPWZ.  The reasons for this are not immediately clear but no doubt could be identified through a survey of the clients that use this source of hunting.

Author: Vernon Booth