Monday, January 17, 2022

Community Trusts face collapse as hunting ban bites

Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism has not yet delivered on its earlier promise that it would financially assist community trusts that were dependent on revenue from hunting during the duration of the hunting ban. In an interview with Sunday Standard, Onkeme Mmolainyana of Mababe Community Trust in Ngamiland revealed that when the hunting ban was imposed, officials from the Ministry came and assured them that it will not affect them in any way because the trusts will be given financial assistance so that they stay afloat.

“Officials from the Ministry came and assured us that we will be assisted financially for a short period to help us during transition from hunting safaris to photographic safari. That was the last we saw of them. They never came back to us and we have not been assisted in any way,” he said.
He also revealed that the officers informed them that the money would be available immediately as it was to be sourced from the National Environmental Fund. He said they were very hopeful that they would continue operating with no hurdles, only to be disappointed after the government officials failed to deliver on their promise.

“The situation is deteriorating very fast. We are now struggling because we can’t generate enough revenue to finance our projects. We can’t even pay our employees’ salaries and rent for our office. If these people don’t come to our rescue soon we will be forced to retrench staff,” said Mmolainyana.

While she retained some hope that help will come their way soon enough, Mmolainyana was quick to point out that failure to do so would result in many of their projects being abandoned.

“It’s not only us who have been affected. Maybe we are better off than other trusts. But the reality remains that almost all trusts have been affected by the hunting ban because they dependent on revenue from hunting,” he said.

Government imposed a ban on hunting in January this year on the grounds that wild animal populations in the country had gone down dramatically. Community Trusts as well as traditional leaders had asked government to hold off the hunting ban for at least a year but to no avail. Their main complaint was that jobs will be lost as a result of the ban. When commenting on the issue, Deputy Director of Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Dr Cyril Taolo confirmed that government had promised to fund Community Trusts that depended on revenue from hunting to help them during the transition. He added that government will soon start the process of helping the trusts to change their management plans before providing the actual funding.

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