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Basarwa said to be starving due to hunting ban

While the larger debate continues over trophy hunting and the recent illegal poaching of an emblematic lion in Zimbabwe for inclusion in a "canned" hunt takes up headline news space the voices of those that have lived by hunting since time immemorial are rarely consulted or heard especially in Botswana.

Former Gantsi Kgosi, Silence Setima says the decision by government to impose a ban on hunting has brought starvation and hunger among Basarwa and Bakgalagadi communities. Speaking in an interview with The Telegraph on the sidelines of the congress of Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) last week, Setima said the stringent hunting laws imposed by government are widely regarded as a form of punishment by the communities living in Ghanzi and surrounding areas.

“In this country, when you are caught with game meat you are treated harshly as if you killed the Queen of England,” he said.

He added that the Basarwa and Bakgalagadi communities are now starving and living in poverty because of the hunting ban.

“Hunting was our culture and lifestyle. Now we have been forced to abandon it and this has had a negative impact on our lives. They have forced us into a totally new setup and life is very difficult for us now,” said Kgosi Setima.

He added that the new laws on hunting are oppressive as they have forced Basarwa to abandon their way of life and embrace government’s poverty eradication projects.

“We used to be able to sustain ourselves, now we have no option but to accept the poverty eradication programs offered by government. It’s a sad situation because none of these projects seems to be doing well especially in the Basarwa communities,” he said. 

Kgosi Setima further said Basarwa have a different lifestyle from other communities in Botswana as they are not farmers but hunters and gatherers.

“A lot of them are still resisting and they have remained in the bush. But they are not living freely because they have to hide from wildlife officers,” he said.

In January 2014, President Ian Khama imposed a ban on hunting, saying there was need to conserve wild animals. Five Basarwa tribesmen were dragged to court last year August by Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama after they violated the hunting ban. In defense, they told the court that the hunting ban was unfair as it denied them an opportunity to feed themselves and their families.

Phaladi Letswamotse. 31st July, 2015



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