DAR ES SALAAM (June 10, 2005) – by Bill Miller -- The Tanzania government is has made a commitment to give bowhunting legal status under its new wildlife act and has authorized safari outfitters to book clients for 2005 while politicians dot the i’s and cross the t’s for final approval.

Hunting with bow and arrow has been illegal in Tanzania since professional hunter Alan Black successfully lobbied the East African Professional Hunter’s Association in the 1920s to have it banned in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika.

Black concluded the sport was “inhumane” toward animals after he learned of Saxton Pope’s and Art Young’s controversial 1925 lion hunt, when they pursued their quarry from a truck and were backed by rifles. The sport is still a point of contention among many old Africa hands.

In spite of the ban, archery hunting continued sporadically under special permit from the wildlife director, until a few years ago when the director announced no more permits would be issued for “the foreseeable future.” The current step to endorse bowhunting in legislation was applauded as both an expansion of hunting opportunity and as recognition of bowhunting as a legitimate method for taking African game.

“We’ve already booked three bowhunting clients,” said George Hartley of Tanzania Game Tracker Safaris. “This is an important development even though it will affect only a small segment of the hunting market.

“This is a big development for us.”

Neil Summers, of Bowhunting Safari Consultants, called the decision “a move forward. Any increase in opportunity is positive for bowhunting.”

Under the new guidelines, across-the-board trophy fees will be twice those for rifle hunters. An elephant, for example, that would cost a rifle hunter $5,500, will be $11,000 for an archer. Tanzania already has boosted trophy fees by 20 to 25 per cent. Since trophy fees in Tanzania are less than in many other countries, Hartley does not expect the fee structure to deter clients.

“People have said they don’t like the extra charge but they booked anyway,” he said.