As the tourism industry digests the contents of the recent publication by Mike Chase, the founder of Elephants without Borders on the declining wild animals in some parts of the country, government officials say there are no immediate plans to ban hunting in the country.
There has been confusion within the hunting safari sub sector as the industry was concerned at the recent suggestions that government has taken a decision to ban hunting—a move which was likely to hurt the industry and maybe scare away tourists.
“The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism would like to clarify that there is no decision made to ban wildlife hunting,” a statement from the ministry stated on Friday.
“Instead, what is being done is to encourage photographic tourism and gradually limit but not ban wildlife hunting. It must be known that species with declining numbers will be considered for limited hunting while those with increasing numbers like elephants, will continue to be hunted within CITES framework.”
Recent media reports have suggested the Botswana government is in advanced legal process to ban the hunting of wildlife in favour of photographic safari.
At a recent workshop for the media, Environment Ministry spokesperson highlighted the benefits of photographic tourism to Community Trusts in the country as compared to just issuing hunting quotes during a discussion on Community Based Resource National Management (CBNRM).
However, there has not been any reference to hunting ban. A study conducted by Chase on behalf of government has shown that 11 species face a serious decline in The Okavango Delta.
Comparing surveys going back to 1993, wildebeest numbers are shown to have shrunk by 90 percent, giraffe by 65 percent, tsessebe by 83 percent, lechwe by 58 percent and zebra by 53 percent.
Quoted extensively by international media, the aerial survey also discovered that also down about 80 percent were the warthog, kudu, roan and ostrich.
From 1999 to the present — a period of only 10 years — the running average for total species decline is about 61 percent.
The survey found out that the species decline is the result of poaching, human encroachment and game fences amongst others.
“In conclusion, the Ministry states that the Botswana Government has no plan to ban hunting in this country and we would like to assure all hunting safari companies and affected communities that live near wildlife management areas who continues to benefit from hunting.”