Saturday, March 6, 2021

Rural communities’ loss is Khama’s gain?

President Lt Gen Ian Khama is believed to be among the biggest beneficiaries while rural communities are the biggest losers in the recent trophy hunting ban which will export hundreds of jobs to South Africa. Although he did not name names, a local researcher dismissed the trophy hunting ban as a self serving political decision which is not informed by scientific research. A recent report by the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa revealed that foreign trophy hunters spent R1.24bn in South Africa in 2012 – the year Botswana announced that it would ban trophy hunting ÔÇô raking in R400m more than the South African Department of Environmental Affairs had estimated. The figure is expected to increase now that the trophy ban in Botswana is in force. Botswana on the other hand is anticipating a loss of at least 500 jobs and more than P300 million from the tourism industry as a result of the ban.
A Researcher and Director at Okavango Research Centre (ORC) Professor Joseph Mbaiwa says indications are that the decision was motivated by politics and not scientific research. Professor Mbaiwa proposed that government should come up with policies barring political leaders from owning a stake in the tourism industry to deter a situation where they make decisions that only serve their personal interest. President Khama is among the biggest citizen investors in the tourism industry who had not invested in trophy hunting safaris. The decision is believed to have been influenced by National Geographic Film maker, Derick Joubert who is President Khama’s personal friend. In apparent reference to Joubert, Professor Mbaiwa told Sunday Standard that those who used their “Hollywood” status to push for the ban claiming that trophy hunting was responsible for the decline in national game were not informed by science. He said that even the survey conducted by Dr Mike Chase about the declined of wildlife species was not thoroughly conducted, which raises questions on how the government took a far reaching decision on the basis of such a survey. Professor Mbaiwa’s argument is backed by two recent studies in South Africa, one by the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa and another by the North West University, which showed that sustainable trophy hunting and private ownership of game has allowed South Africa’s wildlife to flourish, with private game reserves growing from four to about 10,000 in 50 years, covering 20.5-million hectares. Game headcount rose to 16-million from only 500,000 in the same period. By comparison, national parks cover only 7.5-million hectares and are home to 4-million head. Mbaiwa says the ban will have direct consequences on the livelihood of communities that have been relying on hunting quota’s to make revenue through trophy hunting. Mbaiwa explained that in 2006 and 2009 an amount of P33 million was generated through trophy hunting while P4 million came from photographic safaris. He says that shows how inconsequential the contribution of photographic hunting is to the welfare of rural communities as opposed to game hunting. Mbaiwa says the ban will deny the communities an opportunity to benefit from the resources which could trigger the rise of poaching. Sankuyu Tshwaragano Management Trust Chairman, Galesengwe Haku stated in an interview that the ban of hunting will affect their business negatively and will force them to cut their monetary contributions to old age pensioners and the youth. South Africa’s Professor Van Der Merwe was this week quoted in the South African media saying “The biggest benefit of trophy hunting is the conservation of these species … it is also a big economic contributor to local communities in the mostly rural areas where it takes place.

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