Botswana government could lift the hunting following recommendations by an executive committee that was set up to consult the public on the thorny topic. The Cabinet Sub Committee on Hunting Ban Social Dialogue has since completed the consultations and presented the findings and recommendation to President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, pursuant to Statutory Instrument no. 2 of 2014, took a decision to stop hunting of wildlife in all areas of Botswana effective January 2014 during former president Ian Khama’s administration.
Presenting the findings, the minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Frans Van Der Westhuizen said proponents of the hunting ban postulate that it is a good and noble conservation effort which will create a conducive environment for increased wildlife populations while those against the hunting ban are of the view that hunting is a good wildlife management tool if properly implemented.
“They maintain that if and when wildlife populations and human livelihoods are taken into consideration, this would translate to communities becoming good conservationists. It was also observed that as communities realise the potential value and associated income to be derived from wildlife resources and related activities, they will be converted to be good conservationists as opposed to concentrating on negative aspects of property destruction and loss of human lives caused by wildlife,” the minister said.
From the submissions made by the communities and other stakeholders, the committee as assigned by the President, found it necessary to propose the following recommendations, stated here in summary form.
• Hunting ban be lifted.
• Develop a legal framework that will create an enabling environment for growth of safari hunting industry.
• Manage Botswana elephant population within its historic range
• Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) should undertake an effective community outreach program within the elephant range for Human Elephant Conflict mitigation
• Strategically placed human wildlife conflict fences be constructed in key hotspot areas
• Game ranches be demarcated to serve as buffers between communal and wildlife areas.
• Compensation for damage caused by wildlife, ex gratia amounts and the list of species that attract compensation be reviewed. In addition, other models that alleviate compensation burden on Government be considered.
• All wildlife migratory routes that are not beneficial to the country’s conservation efforts be closed.
• The Kgalagadi southwesterly antelope migratory route into South Africa should be closed by demarcating game ranches between the communal areas and Kgalagadi Wildlife Management Areas.
• Regular but limited elephant culling be introduced and establishment of elephant meat canning, including production of pet food and processing into other by products.
The consultations covered Kgotla meetings, Full Council meetings as per Appendix 1 (page 33), submission of papers and meetings with individuals and private entities at different forums outside the kgotla. Those entities consulted include Elephants Without Borders, Community Trusts such as KALEPA-Kazungula, Lesoma, Pandamatenga, CECT-Chobe West as well as the NGO Council, Botswana Wildlife Producers Association and individuals including Richard White, Mark Kyriacou and Richard Pascall of Bartrek Ranch in Tsabong.
In June 2018, Masisi established “The Hunting Ban Sub Committee of Cabinet” to kick-start a social dialogue aimed at reviewing the ban on hunting. The Cabinet Membership of this Committee is as follows; Minister of Local Government and Rural Development- Chairperson, Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Minister of Transport and Communications ,Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Minister of Basic Education and Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration