I spoke with Debbie Peake of the Botswana Wildlife Management Association (BWMA) right after Khama's statements appeared in the Botswana press. Peake says the public announcement caught the association and its members a bit by surprise in light of the newly extended leases and continuing communications with the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) on ways to accommodate hunting beyond 2013. In an official statement issued by BWMA, the organization specifically states that the extended hunting period was allowing more time for continued dialogue with the ministry on national conservation strategies and the transition of these areas to non-consumptive tourism. "The BWMA has been in negotiations with the MEWT since 2008 in an effort to rationalize the change in land use," the statement reads. "Consumptive tourism plays a critical role in securing remote wildlife areas against poaching, fire, human and livestock encroachment, and supports 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."
The president's statements and lack of clarification from the ministry have left the hunting industry there somewhat in limbo. Khama mentions only hunting in "public areas," so it is unclear how that applies to community-owned areas where there are leases that don't expire until 2017. Some say that Khama's announcement will not affect hunting there........(continued)