GABORONE, BOTSWANA — Botswana through the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism this week announced that government has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension.
Since its imposition, the hunting suspension has become a topical subject in the country, as there developed two schools of thought with some of the view that if hunting was re-instated, communities would support conservation as they realise the potential value and associated income to be derived from wildlife resources and related activities; and as a result, the annual population would increase while on the other hand, some people were of the view that the suspension would lead to animal population increases; thus it would promote conservation especially for the species that experienced reduction.
“In June 2018, a Presidential Sub-Committee of Cabinet was tasked to initiate a social dialogue aimed at reviewing the ban on hunting. The process entailed a nationwide process including holding Kgotla meetings, consultation with Local Authorities as well as other stakeholders,” said Botswana Tourism Minister, Kitso Mokaila while briefing the media yesterday (Thursday)
Mokaila said the fundamental issue that emerged was the appreciation by citizens that they were being consulted. This was seen as necessary for building on the national principles of: Democracy, Development, Self-reliance, Unity and Botho. Some of the findings of the Cabinet Sub Committee on Hunting Ban and Social Dialogue were as follows:
- The number and high levels of human-elephant conflict and the consequent impact on livelihoods was increasing;
- Predators appear to have increased and were causing a lot of damage as they kill livestock in large numbers;
- There is a negative impact of the hunting suspension on livelihoods, particularly for community based organisations that were previously benefiting from consumptive utilisation; iv) The lack of capacity within the Department of Wildlife and National Parks leads to long response time to problem animal control reports; and
- The general consensus from those consulted was that the hunting ban should be lifted.
The minister added that on the basis of these issues, government has assessed all these recommendations and has accepted all but one recommendation which makes reference to regular culling of elephants and establishing an elephant meat canning including production of pet food.
This was rejected because culling is not considered acceptable given the overall continental status of elephants. Rather, a more sustainable method such as selective cropping should be employed. Therefore the principal recommendation that has been adopted is the one which proposes the re-instatement of hunting.
- Essentially: Hunting will be allowed on a small, strictly controlled basis, with fewer than 400 elephant licenses to be granted annually, as has been approved by CITES.
- Priority will be given to Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Trusts in allocation of hunting quotas (over 50% of quota to be given to CBOs and Trusts).
- Hunting will be re-instated only in designated Concession Hunting Areas (CHAs.)
- There will be equitable distribution of citizen hunting quota.
- Citizen hunting license shall not be transferable.
- An effective hunting quota allocation system shall be developed based on science;
- Animals to be included in the hunting quota shall be those currently reflected in Schedule 7 of the Wildlife and National Parks Act of 1992.
- Special game license will not be re-instated due to existence of other government social safety nets to cover for such (ii) A legal framework that will create an enabling environment for growth of safari hunting industry will be developed; (iii) The Botswana elephant population will be managed within its historic range; (iv) An effective community outreach programme within the elephant range for Human Elephant Conflict mitigation will be undertaken; (v) Strategically placed human wildlife conflict fences will be constructed in key hotspots areas; (vi) Game Ranches will be demarcated to serve as buffers between communal and wildlife areas;
(vii) Compensation for damage caused by wildlife, ex gratia amounts and the list of species that attract compensation be reviewed; and other models that alleviate compensation burden on government be considered; (viii) All wildlife migratory routes that are not beneficial to the Country’s conservation efforts will be closed; (ix) The Kgalagadi south westerly antelope migratory route into South Africa will be closed by demarcating game ranches between the communal areas and Kgalagadi Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). 6. In all the actions taken, whether for or against any recommendations, the guiding principles were: the need to conserve our natural resources, the need to facilitate human wildlife co-existence; and scientific management of our elephants and other wildlife species.
7. All the above notwithstanding, Government shall continue to monitor the situation and may cause for periodic review of the recommendation approved. In doing so, Government shall endeavor to consult the affected communities, community leadership, non-Governmental Organisations, etc. 8. Botswana Government is convinced that tourism can be fully exploited sustainably to benefit the economy.
Sustainable tourism calls for the development of tourism policies that assure the safeguarding of social, cultural and natural resources and guarantee that these assets can meet the needs of present and future populations and tourists. It is for this reason that Government has also approved strategies for facilitating citizen participation in the tourism sector.
The strategy has several models which advocate for, among others: i) The allocation of existing vacant concessions and identified sites solely to citizen companies, joint ventures, community trusts and community of citizen consortia; ii) Where existing concession operators issue more than 25% of shareholding to citizen companies, consortia, joint ventures or community trusts, a fixed period lease of 30 years be issued under the new leaseholding; iii) Land allocated to citizens through tourism citizen economic empowerment model be used as collateral by allottees to secure shareholding and or partnerships.