Lift hunting ban, cull elephants - Cabinet sub-committee recommends

21 Feb 2019

By Calistus Bosaletswe

Former President Ian Khama’s fortress in the tourism industry, which disproportionately benefits few of his friends to the detriment of the community at large, is being dismantled every step of the way.

A 10-point plan that seeks the hunting ban to be lifted was handed over to President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi on Thursday by Cabinet Sub-Committee appointed by the president. Led by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Frans Van Der Westhuizen, the sub-committee delved into the issue holistically and consulted stakeholders.

Under Khama’s administration, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism banned hunting of wildlife in Botswana in January 2014. The move was widely interpreted as aimed at bolstering businesses belonging to few of Khama’s friends in the photographic tourism industry – alleged proponents of the ban – to the exclusion of the majority of communities who benefit from hunting.

The ban was imposed ostensibly to shore up Khama’s conservation credentials in the eyes of the international community especially Conservation International.

Westhuizen’s committee recommends:

  • Hunting ban be lifted.
  • Develop a legal framework that will create an enabling environment that will create an enabling environment for growth of safari hunting industry.
  • Manage Botswana elephant population within its historic range.
  • Department of Wildlife and National Parks should undertake an effective community outreach program within the elephant  range for Human Elephant Conflict mitigation.
  • Strategically placed human wildlife conflict fences be constructed  in key hotspot areas.
  • Game ranches be demarcated to serve as buffers between communal and wildlife areas.
  • Compensation for damage caused by wildlife, ex-gratia amounts and the list of species that attract compensation be reviewed.
  • All wildlife migratory routes that are not beneficial to the country’s conservation efforts be closed.
  • The Kgalagadi south-westerly antelope migratory route into South Africa should be closed by demarcating game ranches between the communal areas and Kgalagadi Wildlife Management Areas.
  • Regular but limited elephant culling be introduced and establishment of elephant meat canning, including production of pet food and processing into by products.