A London lawyer may have tied himself up in knots by asserting that there is no evidence that residents of the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve hunt with guns and vehicles.┬á
“There is no evidence that the Bushmen of the CKGR hunt in any systematic way for sale, or use guns or vehicles, or hunt endangered species, or that their hunting is unsustainable. In the name of conservation they have had to pay a price out of all proportion to any threat that their subsistence hunting might pose,” says Gordon Bennett in a legal report he has produced for Survival International (SI).
SI is campaigning for the right of historically hunter-gatherer communities that live in the reserve to be allowed to hunt wild animals for subsistence purposes. On the other hand, the Botswana government has maintained that CKGR residents hunt in an unsustainable manner because they use guns and vehicles. The difficulty with Bennett’s argument is that he lives in the United Kingdom and those who know the CKGR better than he does contradict his account. Kuela Kiema, who grew up in the settlement of Xade before it was relocated to New Xade, has come out to boldly state that as early as the late 1980s, the use of the bow and arrow was dying out.
“People were beginning to use rifles, dogs, horses and snares. They were also becoming less keen on meat of game killed with a poisoned arrow because it goes bad very fast. Skinning an animal killed with a poisoned arrow is also risky if you have an open wound. If the blood of the dead animal gets in the wound and into your bloodstream, you fall sick immediately and might die depending on the strength of the poison,” he says, adding that studies by both the Botswana government and one Japanese scholar confirm this.
Interestingly, supposing there is any poaching going on in the game reserve, Bennett’s statement would be true. Guns and vehicles would make a lot of noise that would alert game scouts to the poaching and those engaged in this illegal activity would prefer to be more circumspect. However, that would just be an innovation that is not culture-related.