Botswana hunting ban debate

What's it all about?

Botswana recently announced that hunting licences, both commercial and private would not be issued as from 2014.

Botswana, covers 581,730 square kilometers (224,610 square miles), and is home to the massive Kalahari Desert and large national parks. It has elephants, lions, giraffes and many other wild animals, making it a popular destination for big game hunters

What are the issues?

For the ban

Botswana’s President Khama, said the decision not to issue hunting licences “was taken to protect Botswana's fauna, because hunting licences encourage poaching.Left unchecked, rampant hunting would be a “genuine threat” to the country’s wildlife. 

Trophy hunters will no longer be able to take elephant, lion, buffalo and other trophy species in Botswana. Although, the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism  has said that it would continue to distribute special licenses for "traditional hunting" in some areas, but would ban the sale of licenses to sport hunters. Under the terms of the plan, current hunting concessions in the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari will be transformed into "photographic areas."

Against the ban

Others argue that Botswana's ban on hunting may improve revenue from hunting for neighbouring countries, while at the same time, drawing attention by poachers to Botswana's wildlife.

According to Prof Saayman of the North West University's Potchefstroom Campus, "Botswana wants to ban hunting in view of combating game poaching, but the problem is that it is going to have a reversed effect. Kenya went exactly the same way. They also banned hunting and are currently sitting with a huge game poaching problem, so much so that some of their species face total extinction.

The strategy proposed by Botswana is short-sighted and is not going to work. Game numbers will decline and it is going to have a serious impact on the hunting and game farm industry in the countries. Case studies from South Africa have shown that as soon as the hunting of a species is allowed, it leads to the breeding as well as conservation of the particular species. Botswana's policy is definitely going to lead to job losses, since it concerns professional hunters and many other professions. As wildlife in Botswana declines, poachers will also look for another means of livelihood, and they can find it in South Africa. This can place immense pressure on our game industry."

In South Africa, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, recently said at a hunting indaba held at Sun City, that the government commits itself to the growth and expansion of South Africa's hunting industry. This is a very positive step seen in the light oft the value of this industry to the economy which still has a lot of growth potential."