Local Conservationist Criticises Gov’t On Hunting

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  • Says government’s debate on hunting far from the truth

A local conservationist, Tiego Mpho has criticised government’s approach to counter the Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill in the United Kingdom, and a further campaign in Europe saying the latter has painted a Botswana hunting discourse that is far from the truth. 

Botswana’s bid to stop the Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill on imports of hunting trophies into the United Kingdom hit a snag as the draft law had passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 22 March 2024. The Bill seeks to ban importation of legally obtained wildlife trophies from Botswana and other African countries such as Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.

In its attempts to block the Bill, Minister of environment and tourism Dumezweni Mthimkhulu in March led Botswana delegates to the British Parliament to lobby against it. The Minister met with Members of the House of Lords to lobby against the intended bill highlighting the country’s sustainable utilisation policy on wildlife management, increased community benefits and species conservation.

Mpho however expressed concerned by what he regarded the simplistic nature of how government has painted the hunting discourse in London, saying it left so much that the issue deserves.

He is of the view that what government ought to have done in London was to inform House of Commons that communities living in wildlife areas back home are suffering because of human wildlife conflict as the country doesn’t have enough resources to help victims adapt or mitigate the effects. By doing this he is convinced that the critics would had been gladly open at assisting Botswana financially.

“We are receiving a lot of financial aid so that we can manage and do things right,” said Mpho. He argued that hunting liquidate environmental assets for profit, something which is against green economy that government has embraced. He further argued, “the reason our hunting ethos was so good is because we only hunted for subsistence not for sports.” 

According to him, since the elephants in Botswana are refugees, the best way to conserve them is to trigger eco system connectivity that would allow them to go back to their own migratory roots consequently depressurising the country.

“Where is the Trans Okavango National Park that government has spoken about that was to allow dispersal of our elephants back into their original range?” he asked.

Mpho is of the view that the only reason that the communities want hunting to happen is because they are not benefiting from tourism but instead gravitate at the lower end of its chain.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Boatametse Modukanele differed, arguing there is no one silver bullet that can solve all the problems relating to elephants. 

He noted, contrary to Mpho’s assertions, that government has always invested its own national resources into conservation without reliance on donor funds.

“Yes Germany funds Kavango–Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area but we must understand that the elephants have always been here before KAZA was formed. We have always invested our own national resources into conservation, not donor funded but money that would have gone into other issues such as infrastructure developments. So we are not beggars,” he argued.

He said there is a room for engagement with the likes of Mpho who are adamantly against government’s position on hunting. “We are happy to engage so that we agree on where our differences are same to commonalities so that we can then move forward’’.

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