On November 5, 2012 the President of Botswana, Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, delivered his State of the Nation Address 2012. Approximately one page of his 24-page address covered Environment & Tourism. He described a “determination to diversify the tourism industry in partnership with communities” but that diversification omitted tourist hunting. He described the Botswana Tourism Eco-Certification system, which promotes environmentally friendly tourism that incorporates host communities. Then he announced the decision to “stop” most tourist hunting and why in the 124th paragraph of his address. That paragraph is quoted here in full to preserve its context, i.e. poaching and tourist hunting together.
124. Of additional concern is the rise in cross border and domestic poaching incidents and trafficking of live predators, which are the subject of our new and evolving National Anti-Poaching Strategy. At the same time we have reached the decision to stop the commercial hunting of wildlife in public areas from 2014 as the shooting of wild game purely for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna as a national treasure, which should be treated as such.
Note this is a statement of intent and expression of his personal, biased belief about the value of hunting and is paragraphed with unlawful poaching. He has pledged to close tourist hunting since a young boy running around hunting safari camps and is in position to do just that. Also, the new Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism is one of the two twin brothers of the President. He too admits a bias against tourist hunting and has confirmed the closure in a year. The President himself has been dictating to a line of Ministers and Directors since his Vice-Presidency. He has already marginalized the tourist hunting industry over the past 15 years.
In fact, many concessions have just been renewed for 2013 with at least some groups of community areas renewed out through 2017. (Johan Calitz Safaris, Butler & Holbrow Safaris and Peter Holbrow or Greg Butler.) Perhaps community areas are not considered “public areas” to be closed. The allocations are to be stopped in “public areas” after 2013. The promised closure is not of resident hunting and not private ranch hunting such as exists on a large scale in RSA and Namibia. Although hunting is presently still open, the quotas are expected to be reduced. Elephant hunting quotas are also expected to be reduced and perhaps quotas issued on a case-by-case basis. That suggests that the hunting of elephant may be focused more on problem animal control than managing bull elephant to become older, larger tuskers.
The president brags of democracy in Botswana, but his tenure and devotion to duty, affected by his personal beliefs and biases, can be quite dictatorial. This devoted president means well but is seriously mistaken. His bias is affecting his wildlife management judgment and decision-making to the detriment of the people and wildlife. The hunting community has long been marginalized by his bent, but I expect hunting will nevertheless hang on because of its inherent private, communal and conservation benefits. It does reduce poaching, particularly in areas not suitable for photographic tourism. If one leaves his house empty, thieves will move in. Moreover, the concession holders are bound by their tender agreements to maintain water holes and to control the poaching. The elephant population is the largest in the world, growing, and the conflict with local people is increasing with that growth. That said, the Botswana Wildlife Management Association is hard at work contending with the foreboding announcements. We all need to be supportive of the BWMA and behave as good tourist hunters when in the country to maintain what can be saved. Remember that Namibia’s “public areas” were closed for a number of years and are now open, though the reason was not the bias of the President.
STATEMENT FROM THE BOTSWANA WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION
The Botswana Wildlife Management Association (BWMA) welcomes the recent decision by the Government of the Republic of Botswana to extend concession leases for multi-purpose (photo and hunting) use for a further year for the following concessions:
CT1: Destination South Safaris
Contact: Jeff Rann
CT2: Johan Calitz Safaris
Contact: Johan Calitz
CT3: Chobe Fish Eagle
Contact: Duncan Britton
NG 42: Nemesis Safaris
Contact: Johan Calitz
NG 43: Kgori Safaris
Contact: Jim Van Rensburg firstname.lastname@example.org
NG 47: Safaris Botswana Bound
Contact: Graeme Pollock
CH12: Bottle Pan Safaris
Contact: Mike Murray
This extended period will allow for continued dialogue with the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) on national conservation strategies and to facilitate the transition of these areas from multiple use (hunting and photographic) to non-consumptive tourism.
A verbal statement was made at a recent meeting with tourism authorities that all hunting in Government concessions would cease by the year 2014: however, the BWMA do not have this statement officially - our Government has continually stated that areas with existing leases will not be affected until lease expiry, so community-based concession areas, NG41 (Mababe) and CH1/2 (Chobe Enclave), which are operated by Johan Calitz Safaris (email@example.com) and Butler & Holbrow Safaris (contact: Peter Holbrow (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Greg Butler (email@example.com) respectively, should not be affected by the statement made in respect of the 2014 cut-off.
The BWMA has been in negotiations with the MEWT since 2008 in an effort to rationalize the change in land use: consumptive tourism plays a critical role in securing remote wildlife areas against poaching, human and livestock encroachment, fire and supporting community-based livelihoods. With these pivotal factors in mind, the BWMA will continue to collaborate and lobby Government to recognize how hunting succeeds in maintaining wildlife functionality and habitat conservation in Botswana.
For any further information on booking hunts in the above concession areas, please contact the operators listed above or contact the BWMA Secretariat on email firstname.lastname@example.org.