The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DNWP) escort guides who ensure hunting companies act accordingly during hunting, have decried negligence of their welfare during the just ended hunting season.
The guides raised their concerns during the 2022 hunting season review meeting held in Maun this week. The three-day meeting will this Friday host relevant stakeholders including community based organizations, local hunting safaris and other organisations to share the challenges and successes of this year’s hunting season.
Among other things the guides complained about is the lack of appropriate safety equipment such as rifles for self-defence in cases of wild animal attacks while escorting clients hunting.
Luna Kelaetse, one of the escort guides based in Ngamiland said though there is no mortality recorded yet due to attacks, she appealed that such incidents should be avoided by providing officers with relevant safety equipment during hunting.
She further raised a concern of work over load highlighting that the department deploys only one officer per hunting company to spend days walking in the bush and having to knock off late at night.
“During hunting we go into the bush at 6 am and spend the whole day hunting for the desired animal and if we fail to find it, we then go back to base around 10pm, on arrival one will have to start planning on what to eat then sleep only to repeat that routine the following day,” Kelaetse decried.
Kelaetse has since suggested for the department to consider providing them with ration packs to at least assist during the whole trip. She further noted that the department should also consider deploying two escort guide officers per safari hunting company so that they can shift and have rest.
Meanwhile Emanuel Jeremiah who is based in Kweneng district also shared the same sentiments adding that though wildlife officers are expected to conduct themselves in a certain way to avoid wild animal attacks they should however have back up in case charging animals do not back off. “If they are unable to offer us riffles they should at least offer teasers which escort guides can use for self-defence in case an animal charges at them,” Jeremiah pleaded.
He added that officers are also in need of new uniforms noting that the ones they are currently using are worn out.
In response DWNP Acting Director, Maipelo Mojalemotho took note of the suggestions and complaints made by the wildlife officers and promised to forward them to the department’s management.
According to Mojalemotho for this year’s hunting season which ended in September, community quotas accrued more than P27 million, a 11% increase from the P24 million from the last hunting season.
Mojalemotho has also revealed that the special hunting quota which gave priority to local safari companies was sold at a total of over P24 million. She said the move to sell tenders for the quota was aimed at promoting citizen empowerment.