Botswana will ban trophy hunting in the new year despite a last ditch attempt by Community Development Trusts to lobby government to suspend the exercise that will see the tourism industry shedding jobs in 2014.
Deputy Director in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism DR Cyril Taolo said the programme is ‘going to start beginning of the year’ confirming fears that the industry will be hurt.
“Yes we are going to start the programme as was stated by President Khama early this year”. Sources in the industry say this has come as a shock as the Community Development Trusts have lobbied government to suspend the ban.
Besides Community Development Trusts, some chiefs in the Ngamiland area amongst them Merafe Amos of Khwai and Montle Kebualemang of Mababe had also made similar calls for the ban to be extended.
Their argument is that many people in the area are dependent on hunting carried out by Community Trusts and Safaris that buy animals from community trusts.
“This ban will harm the young men who were dependent on working for community trust in the village and safari companies that came and buy animals for purpose of hunting them. We also ate meat from the animals and we were better off,” Kgosi Amos of Khwai argued.
Besides, he said that the community trust was running some small projects in the village which were being sponsored by the selling hunting of animals. Such projects he said included building of houses for the poor and elderly in their village such projects he said will definitely be stopped with the banning of hunting.
Photographic safari which has replaced hunting, he said is not making as much money as hunting was doing which is why he says he thinks the ban should either be extended or new hunting areas be allocated for the purpose.
“We still have large areas that have not been affected by hunting at the moment the government should consider allowing the community to hunt in those areas”, said kgosi Amos.
It is estimated that Botswana’s hunting industry generates about P336 million annually and more than 500 people are employed at different levels in the safari industry. Suspending hunting indefinitely came as a result of dwindling animal numbers in the country, although there has been any scientific study to show the decline is from hunting.
According to a recently completed aerial survey carried out by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has indicated that wildebeest, giraffes, kudu, lechwe, ostriches, roan and tsesebe antelope and warthog populations have dropped significantly over the past 10 years, specifically in the North and eastern areas.
The survey, which was conducted following concerns that some species in key wildlife areas of Botswana were declining, observed 26 herbivorous animals. These included, buffalo, duiker, eland, elephant, giraffe, impala, kudu, springbok, steenbok, warthog, wilder beast, zebra, roan, sable, sitatunga, tsesebe. The survey also included cattle, donkey, horse, sheep, and goats.