Community Based Organisations which have been benefiting from wildlife hunting have been advised to venture into photographic tourism to mitigate loss of revenue as government moves to suspend hunting from January 2014.
The ban on wildlife hunting has sent shock waves amongst the general public, including political leaders and Communities that have lived side by side with these natural resources.
“My Ministry is cognizant of the fact that Community Based Organisations that have primarily benefited from consumptive utilization are anxious about the potential impact of this decision,” noted the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Tshekedi Khama.
He allayed fears: “However my Ministry has given prior notice and facilitation to ensure a smooth transaction of CBO’s to photographic tourism.”
“We believe that benefits that will accrue to the CBO’s from photographic ventures will, in the long term, be more sustainable than those derived from hunting.”
Khama cited the Khwai Development Trust, which employed 10 people during the hunting season but now provides 76 permanent jobs under photographic safaris realising slightly over P25m in revenue.
As means to ensure the ban takes effect and is obeyed, the Ministry will issue no quotas, licences or permits for hunting of Part I and Part II game animals as listed in the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Acts.
The same will not be applied for game birds listed in Part III of the same Act – subject to conditions to be determined by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
“The decision to temporarily ban hunting has been necessitated by available information which indicates that several species in the country are showing declines,” Khama further noted.
He attributes the causes of the decline to likely factors such as anthropogenic impacts, including illegal off- take and habitat fragmentation or loss. The suspension of hunting would allow the Ministry to work with relevant stakeholders in understanding the causes of decline and where possible to put in place remedial measures to reverse the trend.
“My Ministry will continue to monitor wildlife trends using suitable methodologies and regularly update the public on status of wildlife resource,” he said.
Communities largely to be impacted by the new shift include Okavango, Ngami and Chobe – areas abundant with wildlife and which have reaped economic wealth both personally and on community development projects.
Okavango MP Bagalatia Arone, concerned over what the blanket hunting ban would mean to his constituents and the general public, posed a question in parliament.
The tourism sector, the country’s third revenue earner, flourishes in the mentioned Game Reserves and National Parks, with hunting of animal trophies being one of the major tourist attractions.