Monday, November 29, 2021

Proposed ban of trophy hunting might trigger avalanche of lawsuits against govt

There are fears that companies that entered into joint ventures with some community trusts for the management of community controlled Hunting Areas could sue community trusts for breach of agreement if the government goes ahead with the ban of trophy hunting.

As government moves to ban trophy hunting next year, there are fears that the move could breach agreements between community trusts and Botswana registered companies that went into joint arrangements for the management of the hunting areas.

Sunday Standard has unearthed some information that shows that companies that went into joint ventures with the community have signed lease agreements with community trusts to use their community controlled hunting areas until 2017.

Some community trusts intend to approach the government in an effort to convince the government not to impose the ban on trophy hunting in their community trusts next year.

The ban of trophy hunting next year will affect some of the community trusts and joint venture contracts that will still be in effect beyond 2014.

Mababe Zokutshuma Community Trust General Manager, Onkeme Mmolainyana, stated in an interview that Mababe Zokotshuma Community Trust joint venture with African Field Sports View contract ends in 2017.
Mmolainyana said that they had given African Field Sports View a lease agreement to conduct hunting until 2017, adding that since the government intended to ban trophy hunting this could affect an agreement that they had reached with the company.

He indicated that they intend to approach the government with the hope that the government will allow them to continue with trophy hunting in their community trusts next year.

Mmolainyana said the trusts have since approached a company that they went into agreement with expressing the government’s move. Mmolainyane was hopeful that the government would listen to them.

Some have expressed concern that the move to ban trophy hunting in the country would greatly impact negatively on the tourism sector, which is the second largest earner.

Okavango Research Centre Acting Director, Joseph Mbaiwa, also expressed shock over lease agreements that end in 2014.

He said that the government had initially wanted to ban hunting after next year because all lease agreements for managing hunting areas were coming to an end before 2014. Mbaiwa explained that companies that entered into joint ventures with the community will sue if the government imposes the ban on trophy hunting.

“There has been instances where companies have taken community trusts to the courts for breaching the agreements. If the government moves to ban the hunting there is a possibility that these companies will sue the community trust. That means the trust will be spending money at the courts rather than investing in the communities,” said Mbaiwa, adding that if communities are not meeting their promises because of the government’s move, there is going to be a legal battle.

Mbaiwa said that this will worsen the situation because it is evident that the ban on trophy hunting will affect the revenue generated by communities that rely on community trusts to make revenue.

Mbaiwa added that the ban on trophy hunting in Botswana will have direct consequences on the livelihood of people who have been relying on hunting quota’s to make revenue through trophy hunting.

According to Mbaiwa, it is evident that the money generated by these trusts through trophy hunting was far much more compared to profits made from Photographic Safari’s.

He explained that most of the profits in the community trusts were made through trophy hunting.

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