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 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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