Excerpted from The Hunting Report, February 2011, page 3
News… News… News
Changes In Botswana; Mozambique, More
(Editor Note: Editor Barbara Crown caught up with various contacts from Africa at the Dallas Safari Club Convention and the African Hunting Show in Atlanta last month. Here's some of the news she collected on the latest developments on hunting the Dark Continent.)
Once again, the future of hunting in Botswana is in question. Recently issued quotas show an increase for elephant, but all plains game quotas have been severely slashed. Also, in his State of the Nation address some months ago, President of Botswana Ian Khama announced that 25-kilometer non-hunting buffer zones are now in effect around national parks, as well as 10-kilometer zones along international borders. In that same speech, Khama encouraged communities in those areas to move from a consumptive use of wildlife (hunting) to the non-consumptive photographic safari scheme.
So, what's this all mean for hunting in Botswana? Here's what I've learned. All delta areas will be closed to hunting when the remaining leases there for various concessions expire at the end of 2011 or 2012. You'll recall I reported in January 2010 that the government Wildlife Management Areas had already closed. (See Article ID 2376.) Operators currently with concessions there may have the right of first refusal during the tendering process to secure those concessions for photo safaris. If they are denied that, the areas will be put to tender and could be picked up by photo safari companies.
It is clear that all buffalo and plains game hunting in government and community concessions everywhere will be substantially reduced. Technically, elephant hunting will close as well, but that will not be the reality. The reason is that the government intends to continue elephant hunting as a means of "elephant management" under special dispensations. Under the contracts and rights of the concessions, elephant hunting will continue under this new elephant management program, and operators will get some kind of quota. The buffer zones now in place will have no effect on elephant hunting under the special dispensations. Hunting for jumbo in the eastern blocks will continue this way as well.
Hunters looking at a safari in Botswana should make sure they book with someone who still has a lease and will be in operation in the coming new era of leases. Of course, hunting for plains game, buffalo and leopard continues on private ranches. So, that is still an option for you. And, I'm told there is a chance to get plains game hunting back in other areas as well. Operators hope that by participating in population surveys they will be able to show stable and growing game numbers, proving their investments in Botswana's future and encouraging hunting opportunities for plains game to return. Until that happens, though, Botswana will be mostly a one-species hunting destination, but still an important one. It is worth mentioning that the Ministry of Wildlife has asked the Botswana Wildlife Management Association (the safari operators association) to submit a position paper to discuss the way forward on hunting in Botswana. Negotiations are currently under way. …