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…NCONGO says critics remain a threat to conservation
After the UK’s Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill which sought to ban the import of hunting trophies from African countries was blocked in the House of Lords last week, those who are in support of the proposed law are now calling for the bill to be resurrected.
After passing through the House of Commons and appearing set to be approved by the House of Lords, the bill was however blocked by a group of peers as they tabled amendments they insisted debating individually consequently leading to the bill running out of time.
Following that, defeated peers have now been suggesting for the bill to be resurrected and vowing to ensure that this time around it succeeds. They strongly believe that the bill will protect a range of endangered animals.
On the other side, Southern African countries are elated with the outcome as they feared that the proposed law will have rippling effects on local communities benefitting from hunting. Through their committee known as Community Leaders Network (CLN), the countries had lobbied against the ban which they argued will affect the socio-economic livelihoods of people living in wildlife based areas.
In an interview, Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organization (NCONGO) Director Siyoka Simasiku who is also a member of CLN said those calling for the resurrection of the bill remain a threat to conservation highlighting that people tend to conserve wildlife resource if they realise the benefits from them-through hunting. He stressed that hunting also reduces the human-wildlife conflict such as loss of human lives and damage of properties caused by wild animals.
“Critics do not understand how we take care of these animals, and we never said CBNRM is perfect and we continue to make improvements where we see the need to. We also believe that both photographic tourism and trophy hunting are sustainable models that our communities can use to benefit from wildlife resources hence some trust are doing both,” he said.
Citing the 2022 KAZA Elephant Survey, Simasiku added that Botswana continues to have an increasing population of elephants which is almost triple against the carrying capacity of just 50,000. The summary of the results showed that Botswana has 131 909 elephants.
Meanwhile NCONGO has rebutted an article by an anti-hunting activist, Dr Adam Cruise who criticized that the profits from trophy hunting do not support livelihoods or contribute to wider conservation efforts.
In the report titled “Trophy Hunting in Botswana: A Tale of Declining Wildlife, Corruption, Exploitation, and Impoverishments” Cruise claimed that trophy hunting failed to provide tangible financial benefits to local communities, did not assist with the conservation of wildlife populations and did not mitigate elephant-conflict incidences. He said their field investigation showed that trophy hunting continued to impoverish local communities, cause the decline in wild species and heighten human-elephant conflict situations.
In response NCONGO said Cruise broadly stating that there are no livelihoods or conservation benefits to trophy hunting is overly simplistic and, most importantly, it ignores the voices of the communities they serve. It said claiming that trophy hunting has no community benefits without directly engaging with the communities involved reflects an arrogance that has no place in their shared commitment to ensure the future conservation of the planet.
“As community members, we fully acknowledge that there have been shortcomings in ensuring equitable benefits through CBNRM systems and hunting offtake. However, as trusts, members of the communities mentioned, and wider stakeholders, we are committed to rectifying these issues and ensuring that our villages benefit from the proceeds of hunting offtake. CBNRM is an active process with clear processes to hold trust management accountable, while at the same time enabling our communities to learn, grow and develop governance and auditing skills.”