The Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism has confirmed fears raised by Ian Khama’s remarks in the State of the Nation Address, with the announcement that government has decided to indefinitely suspend commercial hunting of wildlife in public or Controlled Hunting Areas as from the 1st of January 2014.
According to a statement from the ministry, the move comes as a realisation that the shooting of wild game purely for sport and trophies is no longer seen to be compatible with either the country’s national commitment to conserve and preserve local fauna or the long term growth of the local tourism industry.
“Therefore and in light of various enquiries that have been received from members of the public since the above announcement, the following statement is meant to provide further background on the motive and implementation of the suspension,” the ministry said.
It added that the decision to impose this moratorium on hunting was made in the context of a growing concern about the sharp decline in the populations of most of the wildlife species that have been subject to licensed hunting.
“If left unchecked, this decline poses a genuine threat to both the conservation of our natural heritage and the long term health of the local tourist industry, which currently ranks second to diamonds in terms of its revenue earnings.”
Besides contributing to the conservation of wildlife it is anticipated that, in keeping with international trends, the moratorium on hunting will further facilitate the sustainable growth of the tourism sector, as hunting zones are converted into photographic areas.
It may be noted here that while hunting is a seasonal activity, meaning that its contribution to the tourism sector and hence national revenue has also been seasonal and minimal, photographic tourism is conducted year round. Moreover, photographic tourism has virtually no potential for any negative impact on local wildlife populations and hence sustainable.
“Finally, it may be also noted that Government’s decision to indefinitely suspend commercial hunting by non release of any annual hunting quotas, will not for the time being affect its ability to continue to issue special game licences on a limited basis for traditional hunting by some local communities within designated wildlife management areas, etc. Government will thus continue to assess individual cases for special game licenses.”