Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Botswana shuns wildlife money

The Botswana government has reportedly ignored offers in the form of cash incentives by conservationist aimed at encouraging it against hunting and killing elephants. 
Last week the Department of Wildlife and National Parks invited proposals from interested 100% citizen owned companies to bid for the multi-year Special Elephant Quota packages.
According to a document from the department, the packages are for the following controlled hunting Areas (CHAs): CT2, CT4, CT7, NG8, NG9, NG11, NG35 and NG47. In the same document, the department encouraged youth owned organisations to apply.
Following its decision to lift a hunting ban in 2019 and resume hunting especially of elephants, Botswana has drawn the ire of conservationists worldwide with some of the animal welfare activists calling for boycott of Botswana’s tourism sector.
Now it has emerged that the conservationists seem have adopted new ways of persuading Botswana to also adopt new conservation measures aimed at saving elephants from being hunted and killed.
Information obtained from a South African animal welfare organisation shows that it had offered to buy license for hunting and killing of the elephants in question.
This was revealed by the Executive Director of EMS Foundation, Michele Pickover who stated that they had sent the letter last year but they are yet to receive a response from the government. She added that their offer which is yet to be responded to by Botswana authorities was made last year.
“Dr Cyril Taolo (the then acting director of department of wildlife) did not have the courtesy of replying to our letter unfortunately. It was sent urgently as the auction was announced on the Tuesday and took place on the Friday,” said Pickover.
Pickover  said trophy hunting elephants are not a solution to human-elephant conflict, indeed it will exacerbate it.

“Moreover there are not too many elephants in Botswana. We believe we are being ignored because this issue is about ideology and said Pickover.  
 The letter which addressed to Taolo, expressed concern at the qualifying criteria listed on page 5 of the information provided by the company selected by the government to conduct the auction. Pickover complained that  bidders were required to demonstrate ‘appropriate elephant hunting experience, “proof of membership of recognised legal hunting association, Professional Hunters’ (PH) association & national PH/wildlife management association.”  

Pickover said this explicitly excluded tourism operators or Foundations/companies such as ourselves that do not necessarily want to hunt elephants but do desire to fund non-consumptive conservation in Botswana.

She said the primary rationale for offering hunting licences is to benefit local communities in the country who live with the cost of wildlife, especially elephants.

“We wish to purchase available licences with no intention to hunt elephants, but for the money to be appropriately distributed in a way that benefits conservation.  The trophy hunting fraternity typically sells itself on its irreplaceable contribution to conservation,” Pickover said in the letter. She added that when those opposed to the trophy hunting of elephants voice their concerns of the ecologically destructive effects of the practice (which undermines future ecotourism potential) and the dangers it poses to community members, the response is normally that we should put our money where our mouths are.

“Unfortunately, however, we are often excluded from bidding for these types of licenses as we are not hunting operators,” she said.

Pickover said they would greatly appreciate a revision of the qualifying criteria to enable them to bid on the hunting packages with the express intention that the elephants included in these packages are not hunted should their bids be successful.

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks administers a trophy hunting system, based on three inter-related quota systems: (a) citizen quota, (b) community quota and (c) Special Elephant Quota.

The citizen quota is disposed directly to members of the public through a raffle system, while the community quota is allocated to Community Based Organisations (CBOs) for them to dispose as they see fit, guided by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) within the District in which the CBO operates from. On the other hand, the Special Elephant Quota is directly disposed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.


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