Monday, January 27, 2020

Lifting of a Hunting Ban should never provide a guise for “legalized poaching”

The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has released a very shocking and worrying piece of news.

Two hunters shot and killed a collared elephant. Of course the saving grace, if one may call it so for all its worth, the incident happened in a gazette hunting area.

But still everybody should be worried.

This collar was on that animal to collect scientific research data. The press release leaves us all the poorer on what next.

According to the ministry the bull was charging on the hunters, and apparently the collar was not visible.

The hunters say they only saw the collar after the elephant had been put down.

Huge ethical issues come to play.

Not least because the ministry says as somewhat of an afterthought stated that officials from the Department of National Parks had accompanied the hunters as is required by the hunting rules and regulations.

If that was indeed the case these government officers should also be investigated to determine any unlawful relationship between the officers and the hunters.

Officials are required to accompany hunters exactly to mitigate these kinds of unforeseen circumstances.

If officers are found to have aided, facilitated and abetted any unethical behavior on the part of they should be sacked.

Lobbyists for the Hunting Ban will be very angry, not just at the hunters, but at the government that first lifted the hunting ban and then issued these hunters with the license.

It has been the position of this newspaper to advance controlled hunting.

Our view is that people on the ground, not NGOs clamouring for overseas funding should make such decisions, informed by evidence-based research.

According to the ministry, the two hunters are messers Michael Lee Potter and Kevin Sharp.

The press release ended by saying an investigation by the ministry to determine what really happened was at an advanced stage.

Later on the ministry followed up with yet another release announcing that after engagement, one of the hunters, Mr. Potter indefinitely surrendered his hunting licence while the other, Mr. Sharp had surrendered his for three years.

We are left to guess the true reasons for the disparity in punishment.

The ministry says the two hunters will replace the collar, which to be honest is inconsequential when put against the crime, especially as is the case the ministry does not say what kind of scientific data has been lost with the death of the animal.

Again, Hunting Ban lobbyists will have a field day by reminding the world the ills of hunting.

And also the extent to which Botswana is fast becoming the poaching capital of the world.

The truthfulness of their statement will not matter to them.

Plenty of people whose life depend on hunting, especially in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve would swear that their lives have not changed much since the announcement was made that the ban would be lifted.

Their lives remain policed and micromanaged by armed and heavy-handed game scouts who do not hesitate to use torture if they suspect anything.

These are the communities of people who hunt for the pot.

We urge government to be more specific, more targeted in enforcement of breaking rules of hunting.

Or else we are enroute backing to imposing the ban.

Botswana government should be careful not to prioritize the being of some citizens over the other based on colour.

It is more probable that the hunters were white.

And Batswana including those in the CKGR who have suffered a lot for killing smaller animals will not take kindly to the so-called punishment meted to people who killed a collared elephant.

At all time, in everything they do Botswana government should ensure that the weak members of society are protected and taken care of.

In short, without resorting to racialism, Batswana who should always be a priority. Not the wealthy others who form the bulk from where political leaders have friends and where they socialize.

At least from the prevailing political climate, it is clear that there is a clash between the current administration and its predecessor.

Whatever the causes of the clash and also what becomes of the fallout or effects should not fray the national resources.

Poaching should be fought at all cost.

Left with no strong enforcement, poaching will run wild.

The last government was very secretive on the true extent of poaching especially the rhinos.

The current one has to its credit, been open.

Since Government announced that automatic rifles had been seized from game scouts, nothing by way of amending the law has happened to allow these people to once again carry guns that would allow them to effectively fight poachers that are themselves armed to the teeth with military grade assault rifles.

We call on Government to once again Fasttrack that law so that game scouts can get on the job of protecting wild animals.

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