Hunting ban impoverishes communities.
Posted on May 22, 2018
Banning hunting can have negative impacts on the conservation of animals.
It is shocking that for a country with such populations of elephants, Botswana does not have a butchery for local game meat, and skin hides as captured in Objective three of Policy and Strategy management document of 2003. Many like to hide behind CITES to justify the debilitating hunting ban in Botswana. Although Botswana is a signatory for CITES, CITES has no direct control over trade activities within the boundaries of Botswana. Thus management decisions based on credible scientific reasoning can allow for cropping, culling, sport hunting can be done without the approval of the convention. The Hunting ban in Botswana has left many communities poorer; was this an astute decision or emotive agenda? Was this a political decision based on personal interest or on scientific reasoning? Did Wildlife biologists advise government on this? Was there any scientific study to evaluate the negative impact of hunting? What’s wrong with allowing some areas to continue hunting and while others are turned photographic? How much revenues have been lost during this ban? How many Batswana lost their jobs? Is there any post study to show that indeed hunting ban increased animal population numbers? Is there any unequivocal evidence for the cause-effect success of the hunting ban by those who implemented it? So far, I don't have that evidence. The prevailing justification for its introduction was also controversially faulty. Which species were affected by hunting? All these questions influenced my debate. In January 2014, Government of Botswana introduced a hunting ban on hunting of wildlife in all controlled hunting areas. No quotas, licenses or permits will be issued for hunting of Part I and Part II Schedule game animals as listed in the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act. This decision was taken to totally outlaw consumptive utilisation of wildlife, a move that was counterproductive as communities surrounding Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) did benefit from hunting Safaris. There were no immediate measures to replace the now removed incentives from the rural populace. Not did this violated principles of sustainable development, conservation science, but divorce itself from what’s captured in the Revised Rural Development Policy of 2002 and the most grievous paradox of supporting hunting ban by experts in conservation is that these often caricatured on the view that it conflicts directly with the urge to establish protected areas for wildlife and to conserve biodiversity. What a wrong thought by those who supported or instigated the ban! This regressive decision was preempted on the idea that Wildlife populations were dwindling hence need to safeguard them. But reports from Wildlife census shows that elephant populations are on the increase and a menace to communities surrounding wildlife. No one disputes that there are declines in wildlife population due to many factors. Many factors have been viewed as culprits for wildlife population decapitations such as hunting, poaching, human encroachment, habitat fragmentation, drought, and veldt fires but no one comes with a well thought, concrete data to prove that indeed trophy hunting has negative repercussions on biological diversity. Like a friend of mine said, “anybody with any level of ignorance can stand up and blurt about the justification for the hunting ban and its subsequent effect”, but the principle as scientists, we need certain metrics and conditions to be met to infer causality or lack thereof. This was never the case. Generalisations cannot be made about wildlife species, especially the big five. There was localized disruption with certain species accommodative to ensuring that any offtakes are biologically sustainable but based on good monitoring and management. There was no proper reasoning(scientific reasoning) to warrant the hunting ban in Botswana. Never and experts both in Wildlife department never really validified that. The DWNP used to set quats on wildlife offtakes which was deemed sustainable, and local communities benefited from the wildlife within their vicinity. Thus jobs were created. Like what Professor Mbaiwa and other scholars(credible scientific reasoning) posit on their articles on the subject, that I certainly agree with results indicate that the ban led to a reduction of tourism benefits to local communities such as: income, employment opportunities, social services such as funeral insurance, scholarships and income required to make provision of housing for the needy and elderly. No stop gap measures were used or proper capacity building was done on locals to pursue the photographic tourism. On comparative analysis trophy hunting generates more revenues to local communities than photography. What is even hurting, is that in private ranches wealthy tourists are being brought to Botswana to hunt such big animals. After the hunting ban, communities were forced to shift from hunting to photographic tourism. Non consumptive utilization of Wildlife although a good idea, was never really taught to local communities. This development had major impact on their socio-economic status. Reduced tourism benefits has led to the development of negative attitudes by rural residents towards wildlife conservation and the increase in incidents of poaching in Northern Botswana. Data from department of wildlife shows that incidences of poaching are very high despite huge budget and machinery deployed there. Research has shown that trophy hunting is known to create incentives for the conservation of threatened and endangered species as well as their habitats and is considered as a market-based intervention to conservation in most countries endowed with diverse wildlife resources. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) considers conservation to be largely characterized by sustainable utilization of resources for rural development under which the trophy hunting concept falls. And the revised rural development policy advocates for the utilization of natural resources to create employment and improve on rural economies. Batswana should see value from their wildlife, not to subsidies the rich Europeans entrepreneurs at the expense of natives. Scholars are in agreement that trophy hunting as a form of sustainable use is a strong economic instrument that not only incentivizes conservation but also contributes to rural development through integrated conservation and development projects (ICDP) in most tropical countries. Let us note the benefits of controlled and managed trophy hunting; gives large areas of land ‘conservation value; can help address the ongoing loss of species; can bring multiple benefits to wildlife and the communities that live with wildlife; generate revenue for protected area management and community conservation. I therefore maintain that trophy hunting can be an important conservation tool, provided is be done in a controlled manner to benefit biodiversity conservation and local people. It is an established truism that where political and governance structures are adequate, trophy hunting can help address the ongoing loss of species. Instead of emotive hunting ban, the ideal situation should have been premised on ; ensuring that incentives from any hunting opportunities are maximized, without discriminating between state agencies and the private sector, and local communities are involves as espoused in the CBNRM concept; rewarding good biological management and long-term commitment to wildlife conservation; and; ensuring that appropriate interior and exterior fronts are in place to avoid abuse; Develop carefully, local markets that could allow consumptive utilization of wildlife by Natives.
By Thomas Dust Nyoni