Botswana Lion Debacle


Published: August - 1998

There has been a truly nasty lion incident in Botswana. Seems Alistair McFarlane of Jau Safaris has been found guilty of killing an extra lion in his Okavango area without a permit. At this writing, he has been fined 5,000 Pula (about $1,500), and has had his professional hunters license cancelled. There is reportedly pressure to have his Tourism Enterprise License cancelled as well, which would prevent him from holding a hunting concession or having any other involvement in tourism-related activities, perhaps for the rest of his life. Even more penalties may be forthcoming once an investigation has been completed. More on that in a moment.

First, though, it is worth noting that Botswana has a sizeable anti-hunting contingent and that lions are a "sensitive" animal in Botswana. Predictably, a veritable firestorm of criticism has erupted around the McFarlane incident. Seems the local chief has even written State House, asking that all hunting be closed in the Okavango. There is very little chance that will happen, but the entire industry has clearly been shaken by the incident.

Mark Kyriakou of Bird Safaris, who sits on the Executive Committee of the Botswana Outfitters and Professional Hunters Association, said bluntly at press time: "We are the ones recommending that Alistair McFarlane's Tourism Enterprise License be cancelled. Our industry is solidly behind efforts to punish this infraction." Kyriakou went on to say authorities were eager to contact the clients who shot the two lions with McFarlane, not to prosecute them but to enlist their help in determining just what happened. The prevailing theory at this point is, a lion was shot with the first license, which was then turned back in as if the lion had not been shot. At that point, a second license was issued, which was also used to shoot a lion.

"Our presumption at this point is, both clients were victims of fraud," Kyriakou says. He says both clients should immediately get in touch with him number listed below. If anyone fears involvement (and they shouldn't, Kyriakou stressed) we will be........(continued)

 
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