Atta Briefing: The Botswana White Paper

Atta provides a platform for debate on all matters concerning tourism to Africa. These debates are often contentious and the wide reach of our members, representing all sides of the industry, quite understandably produces differing opinions. Atta does not voice an opinion, that is not our function. We endeavour to present an unbiased brief in the quest to find a sustainable solution to the problems facing African tourism today.

What’s this debate all about?

The Botswana Government have issued a white paper which has caused considerable comment. A precis of the key points in this white paper:

  1. The hunting ban to be lifted.
  2. The development of a framework to create an environment for growth of safari hunting
  3. The management of Botswana’s elephant population within its historic range
  4. That the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) should undertake a community program for Human Elephant Conflict mitigation
  5. That strategically placed human wildlife conflict fences be constructed in key areas
  6. That game ranches will serve as buffers between communal and wildlife areas
  7. That compensation for damage caused by wildlife will be considered
  8. That all wildlife migratory routes that are not beneficial to the country’s conservation efforts be closed.
  9. That the Kalagadi south westerly antelope migratory route into South Africa should be closed by demarcating game ranches between the communal areas and the Wildlife Management Areas.
  10. That regular but limited elephant culling be introduced and establishment of elephant meat canning, including production of pet food and processing into other by products.

What is the industry’s response? From the comments received so far, its divided.

On the one side:

  1. That hunting must not be re-introduced under any circumstances
  2. That this shameful non-caring policy must not be adopted.
  3. That fewer not more fences are needed.
  4. That corridors should not be closed
  5. That the tourism industry must be consulted before implementation
  6. That communities must be fully engaged to find solutions that allow them to live with and benefit from Botswana’s wildlife.

On the other side:

  1. That Botswana is right to end its ban on elephant hunting
  2. That rural communities are not forced to endure the predations of animals such as elephants, which constantly threaten their crops and families
  3. That other countries banning hunting have lost huge amounts of their wild animal population.
  4. That Botswana was a conservation success story until the ban in 2014
  5. That previously trophy hunting brought in significant revenue and employment in harsh, remote areas
  6. That since the ban community leaders say work and money have all but dried up.
  7. That the problems facing Africa’s wildlife conservationists are deep and complicated. And threats of tourist boycotts are unhelpful
  8. 20 countries in Africa where elephants roam have the fastest birth rates and the proximity of humans and wildlife creates problems, with an increasing number of incidents of elephants and big cats terrorising rural areas and destroying property.
  9. Political Arguments
  10. The white paper is an instrument to gain electoral votes from rural communities
  11. SADAC Countries need to regain their sovereign rights to practice wildlife management in the manner that they see fit

The debate continues with a statement from Atta Member, African Bush Camps published today.