There is news from all over Africa to report this month. One of the most important developments is the closure of lion hunting in Botswana. Yes, again! The ostensible reason for the closure is concern over the number of lions being killed in defense of livestock in certain areas of the country.
This is the second time that Botswana has closed lion hunting. The first closure was in 2002, and it lasted until December 2005, at which time a minimal harvest of one cat per concession was authorized. No one we have been able to reach was willing to speculate on when – of if – this latest closure will be lifted.
The worry at this point is where the reduction in hunting opportunity in Botswana is going to end. Already, quotas on most animals, except for elephant, have been gradually reduced in recent years. One observer we spoke to on this matter called the move a “gradual throttling of the hunting industry.” Looming in the background is the imminent naming of Ian Khama as President of Botswana. Khama has said he intends to close hunting when he becomes the nation’s fourth president next April.
On the bright side, closing hunting is not a foregone conclusion by any means. For one thing, sustainable use of wildlife resources in Botswana is official national policy, and hundreds of thousands of Botswana citizens directly profit from sustainable use. Trying to close hunting by presidential decree could create a political firestorm. Then there is the “problem” of Botswana’s elephant population. Botswana has so many elephants it simply can’t halt the harvest of jumbo. In fact, while quotas on other animals have been reduced recently, elephant quota has been increased. What may be emerging here is a smaller, highly specialized hunting industry focused largely on elephant hunting.
Still in Botswana, there is more bad news to pass along. Seems the country has experienced a new outbreak of hoof and mouth disease. That has caused authorities to suspend temporarily all exports of cloven-hoof species such as buffalo, kudu, impala, springbok and gemsbok. I have that from Debbie Peake of Mochaba Developments. The only good news here is, she says Veterinary Authorities have approved the shipment of elephant, lion and leopard trophies.....