As UK’s Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill comes for the second reading today, Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organization (NCONGO) Director Siyoka Simasiku has expressed fears that should the bill succeed, other countries may also follow suit.
UK seeks to introduce the law which will ban British hunters from bringing hunting trophies from African countries, a move which others believe will have rippling effects on local communities.
The ban will stop hunters from importing hunting trophies from thousands of endangered and threatened species comprising of rhinos, lions, elephants and polar bears. UK said the ban will protect a range of species including nearly 6 000 animals that are threatened by international trade. It indicated that in the past 50 years, there had been a 60% decline in wildlife globally.
Through their newly formed committee known as Community Leaders Network, Southern African countries continues to lobby against the ban. Simasiku who is also a member of the network is currently in UK where Members of the House of Lords will today (Friday 16th) engage in the second reading of the Bill.
In an interview with one of the local radio stations this week, Simasiku noted that UK is very powerful expressing fears that it may influence other countries to also introduce the ban. He said the developments will then worsen things as the ban will not only affect the socio-economic livelihoods of people living in wildlife based areas but also the country’s tourism income.
Though Simasiku revealed that alternatives are being made to find other direct markets he said it is however crucial that they do not allow for the current market to be shutdown at once. The director stressed that finding other market is work on the process.
Simasiku explained that as Southern African countries they are proposing either for the bill to be passed then amendments are made to it to allow for hunting of certain species such as elephants or for the ban to be dropped all together.
As part of their lobbying Simasiku indicated that they have recently engaged with the House of Lords where they even gave a perspective of what transpired with Botswana’s 2014 hunting ban which economically crippled community trusts. “We have also been working behind the scene pleading for the support of MPs here as well as sending letters and delegations as part of our lobbying against the bill,” said Simasiku who expressed hope that something positive may happen.
Meanwhile former president Ian Khama is among a group of 103 wildlife conservation experts, scientists, government officials from Africa who are in support of the bill. They have since written an open letter to Members of the House of Lords to express their steadfast support for the bill urging them to give it full support.
“Trophy hunting has a history of mismanagement with quotas based on inadequate data, unsustainable hunting quotas, and a lack of transparency… Legal trade, includes trophy parts, makes it harder to enforce anti-poaching laws and can inflate demand for the parts and products of imperilled or trafficked species,” reads part of the letter.
It continued, “The vast majority of funds generated by trophy hunting never reach conservation programmes or local households. If and when they do, such funds are entirely negligible for conservation efforts compared to the damage inflicted by the industry through the irreversible loss of key natural resources. Funds that reach community level are too often siphoned off by the corrupt local elite or simply used for other purposes entirely unrelated to conservation.”
In a previous interview NCONCO director noted that should the ban come into effect the country’s tourism income will seriously be affected as hunters who bring in millions of Pulas into the country will automatically cease coming here. Simasiku emphasized that the hunters who are usually wealthy business people from UK will therefore not see any use of coming to hunt in Botswana since the trophies will not be allowed back into their country.
He said for the worst part of it the ban will affect the socio-economic livelihoods of people living in wildlife based areas. Currently communities involved in safari hunting generate huge sums of money annually through the sale of hunting quotas to professional hunting outfitters. Simasiku pointed out that the loss of income and jobs created from safari hunting will make it difficult for the affected to provide for their families who depend on them for survival.
He added that the ban will also result to increased human-wildlife conflict which has always been a cause of concern especially in the northern part of the country. “The number of elephants here will continue to increase and this will consequently cause more destruction to farmers’ ploughing fields and crops, many lives will also be lost due to elephants or wild animals attacks,” he argued.