The Botswana White Paper: Statement from African Bush Camps

Botswana has created an enviable reputation consistently over the decades as a leading tourism destination that transcends the safari industry. The country has lead the way in banning hunting, a high profile decision that resonated with nature lovers across the world and that has differentiated Botswana from competing safari destinations. Less high-profile has been its sustained and sensitive environmental management over many years which has successfully controlled Botswana’s fragile resources. An important part of this has been accommodating 'trans-frontier' migrations - one of nature’s best secrets of maintaining gene pool diversity and auto-correction including survival of the fragile ecosystems whose survival is dependent on migrating wildlife. These policies have created an iconic safari destination and an industry that is the second largest in Botswana, bringing jobs and prosperity to many of Botswana’s citizens.

These hugely successful policies have not been without cost in terms of increased human wildlife conflicts and pressure from elephant populations which we recognise need to be addressed. 

Like the majority of our industry colleagues, African Bush Camps cares deeply about the communities in wildlife areas: I grew up in such a community, as did most of my colleagues at African Bush Camps and our love and respect for the environment stems from those early interactions. We therefore recognise that communities need to be fully engaged to find solutions that allow them to live harmoniously with wildlife and to benefit from their heritage. We stand ready with our industry colleagues to continue to help with initiatives in this area.

Consultations at all levels of society from grass roots to the top have begun between the new government of President Masisi and stakeholders, reverting to the tried and tested consultation customs & traditions of the Botswana of old.  

The current recommendations to the President are the views of some rural community members.  The tourism industry is next in line for consultation and no doubt our views will be fully heard. They will include the contrasting views of the community members who are gainfully employed; those who are benefiting from the extraordinary boom brought about through the cessation of hunting.

We pledge our support to the Government of Botswana as it undertakes this important debate that will define the future of Botswana.

 

All the best,