Africans Should Benefit From Their Wildlife

The Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Onkokame Mokaila said that if Africans do not use their wildlife, they would remain beggars forever.

Minister Mokaila said that the biggest threat to successful wildlife conservation and to economic well-being in Africa is because the outsiders (Western countries and animal rights groups) continue to dictate to Africa on how it should manage and use its wildlife as if we don’t know how to do it ourselves.

He warned animal rights groups that they are not welcome in Botswana.

“As sovereign African states, we have now decided that we are no longer going to be dictated to by Western countries and animal rights groups on how to manage and use our wildlife,” said Minister Mokaila.

“We have abundant natural resources in Africa, including wildlife and it is us sovereign African states who should decide how to manage and use them.”

In fact, Southern African governments made that decision about two months ago in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe at the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area Meeting for Environment Ministers.

Minister Mokaila is one of Botswana’s longest-serving ministers who believes that the reason why President Mogkweetsi Masisi re-appointed him as Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Minister was to ensure that natural resources (including wildlife such as elephants) benefit the people who share the same land with them.

“The reason President Masisi re-appointed me as Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism (Minister) is because he believes that Government resources alone cannot deal with challenges before us. President Masisi believes that communities must reap rewards for good conservation.”

Sadly, Minister Mokaila said that Botswana communities’ conservation rewards were suddenly stopped in 2013 when former President Ian Khama imposed a ban on elephant hunting without consulting his people.

Fortunately, President Masisi stepped in without delay to restore the hopes of the Botswana rural communities such as those from wildlife-rich Chobe District that they can once again benefit from elephant hunting. It generates most of the hunting revenue. This followed President Masisi’s public statements on Botswana Television and other media platforms locally, regionally and internationally, signalling his intention to begin elephant hunting.

“I support President Masisi 100 percent that elephant hunting must come back as we have heard him say that on local television station and in different media,” said a resident of Parakarungu Village, Chobe District, Mr David Mbanga.

Mr Mbanga said that the former President Ian Khama-imposed ban on elephant hunting came as a disappointment because he never consulted them. Incredible.

He said even his late father Seretse Khama would have been very disappointed to see that his son was taking away wildlife benefits from the people.

“President Seretse Khama used to give us buffaloes for meat annually. Now his son has sadly failed to follow in his father’s footsteps.”

According to local residents, the Ian Khama’s ban in elephant hunting was like telling a supermarket to sell only sweets without major commodities that bring money. When that happens, a businessman has to close shop immediately because the business would not be viable.

This is how former president Khama collapsed Botswana’s hunting industry with hundreds of jobs being lost in what seemed to be a moment of madness.

A farmer from the elephant-rich Chobe District, Mr Mbanga said that former President Khama also devalued the elephants when he banned elephant hunting. Without elephant hunting benefits, Chobe District villagers, like everyone else in Botswana, did not see the need to conserve elephants because this brought costs without benefits.

“The costs include killing our loved ones,” said Mr Mbanga. “We have just buried one of them today here in Kasane.

“Elephants have also destroyed our properties. In fact, we can no longer grow crops because elephants are always destroying them. Therefore, I support President Masisi’s intention to lift the ban on elephant hunting because hunting can help us thin-out the large elephants herds and also minimise human-wildlife conflict as people begin to received benefits from elephants.”

“Now we are planning to ensure that when hunting begins, we should come up with a negotiated increase of Chobe communities’ share from hunting revenue because everything has gone up since the ban on elephant hunting in 2013,” said a farmer from Kachikau Village, Mr Richard Tshekonyane.

“Our development wish-list should include the need to build a butchery and bakery in each village as well as engage in any other projects that benefit our people.”

One of Chobe District’s most tangible investments made using elephant hunting revenue was the construction of the upmarket Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust community lodge that they run jointly with private sector partners. The lodge benefits local communities through employment and training their children in different professional disciplines on how to run a lodge.

This investment stands out as Chobe District’s shining example on how elephant revenue can benefit both elephant conservation and socioeconomic development.

The benefits of elephant hunting help people see the need to conserve elephants. They begin to appreciate what is now being increasingly referred to as the elephant economy, where elephants are valued and use to benefit conservation and development.

For example, a Botswana deputy chief from Kavimba in Kachikau Village, the late Luckson Masule is remembered for having impressively admitted that he was once a poacher, but he stopped as soon as his community started benefiting from elephant hunting revenue benefits.

Right across Chobe River in neighbouring Namibia, Carprivi, another Community leader in Salambala Conservancy Mr George Mutwa told a strikingly similar story that he was once a poacher, but stopped as soon as his community started benefiting from hunting revenue benefits.

The same stories were told by community leaders in Zimbabwe, residents in Zambia, South Luangwa and Mozambique’s Tete Province under the Chumachato Project.

The lesson learnt is that the tangible benefits that the rural communities get from hunting revenues positively change southern African rural communities’ attitudes towards supporting wildlife, particularly conservation.

As long as they receive benefits from wildlife, they will look after it. This is the working wildlife conservation model that Western animal rights groups selfishly don’t want the world to know. Why? They fear that without an elephant-poaching crisis, their fundraising industry would collapse, bringing an end to their high salaries and lifestyles.

But Minister Mokaila said he wants the world to know the truth that conservation without the people does not and would never work in Africa.

He said that President Masisi has already assigned him to start engaging Western countries on this issue in the next few weeks. He has been mandated to explain to Western countries, including the USA; what works and what does not work for wildlife conservation, including elephants in Botswana. The people of Botswana want to benefit from their wildlife.

“I find it absolutely hypocritical that on the other hand, our Western counterparts say that they are committed to achieving sustainable development goals that include poverty alleviation, but on the other hand they are shutting down elephant hunting and ivory trade markets,” said Minister Mokaila.

“They are the biggest threat to wildlife conservation in Africa. What is the incentive for us to look after wildlife if it is not benefiting us.

Minister Mokaila was speaking during the Botswana government-convened Kasane Elephant Summit that was aimed at working towards a common southern African vision for the management of elephants.

President Masisi along with other southern African presidents met this week for the Elephant summit. The people of Botswana, in particular, were expecting President Masisi to announce the resumption of elephant hunting in Botswana in his speech at the Kasane Elephant Summit.

Meanwhile, Minister Mokaila said that the summit was a great opportunity once again for Botswana to assure its neighbouring southern African countries that “we support the region’s wildlife sustainable use agenda”.

The Kasane Elephant Summit came at a time when many southern African countries were increasingly becoming anxious to know if Botswana had been captured by animal rights groups.

This followed its untoward behaviour and decision to vote for up-listing southern African elephant populations to CITES Appendix I; at the 17th CITES meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016.

“This was a directive from former Minister of Environment Tshekedi Khama, without consulting the cabinet,” said Minister Mokaila. He also went against SADC’s pro-sustainable use position without consulting SADC.”

That decision by Botswana’ former Environment Minister Khama was no different from a football player who deliberately scores an own goal on home soil in a World Cup that many would like won on home soil against all odds in order to lift the spirits of its people.

But that was the Botswana of yesterday under former President Khama. The Botswana of today under President Masisi is pro-sustainable use.

“This is why we have invited SADC states to the Kasane Elephant Summit, in order to work towards a common elephant management and use approach in Africa,” said Minister Mokaila.

By Emmanuel Koro: a Johannesburg based international award-winning environmental journalist who has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.

Read the original article on The Herald.

2 thoughts on “Africans Should Benefit From Their Wildlife

  • May 12, 2019 at 2:22 am
    Permalink

    The road to ruin.

    Botswana wants to bring back elephant trophy hunting, based on nothing but rabble rousing and a desperate attempt for the current political party to win rural votes in the upcoming elections in October. This party has already and historically lost the urban vote.

    The current, and once again re-instated minister for environmental matters, Kitso Mokaila, has been hanging out with ministers from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa at least.

    And has now issued the following statements –

    Minister Mokaila said that the biggest threat to successful wildlife conservation and to economic well-being in Africa is because the outsiders (Western countries and animal rights groups) continue to dictate to Africa on how it should manage and use its wildlife as if we don’t know how to do it ourselves.
    He warned animal rights groups that they are not welcome in Botswana.

    “As sovereign African states, we have now decided that we are no longer going to be dictated to by Western countries and animal rights groups on how to manage and use our wildlife,” said Minister Mokaila.

    “We have abundant natural resources in Africa, including wildlife and it is us sovereign African states who should decide how to manage and use them.”

    Well, Mr Mokaila, your sovereign Botswana decided some years ago to end trophy hunting.

    So what made you change your mind Mr Mokaila? Your nationalist statements about “western” dictates do not jive with a former policy do they?

    Also, Mr Mokaila, Botswana is basically a “two-sector” economy. You have diamonds and you have wildlife tourism. Both are very “influenced” by foreign markets.

    Look at it this way Mr Mokaila – in your rush to hunt elephants (and maybe even cull elephants) to gain votes, you might just upset your little apple cart. To satisfy a few “western” country trophy hunters (who actually DO dictate how you should manage your wildlife – did you miss that connection?) you would be willing to risk your fragile economy.

    People, perhaps influenced by those “animal rights groups” might not buy your diamonds or your tourist safaris. Do not underestimate the power of those you chose to insult Mr Mokaila. Botswana is not an island and your economy is dependent on those who buy your products.

    You might think that you are only talking to rural people in Botswana to gain votes Mr Mokaila. But you are doing great damage to the international reputation of Botswana.

    Think carefully and act internationally. Botswana’s future is determined by a global economy and not a few rural voters, rhetoric, and nationalistic statements to make you perhaps locally popular for a few vested interest groups.

    And as a last paragraph Mr Mokaila –

    You say “As sovereign African states, we have now decided that we are no longer going to be dictated to by Western countries and animal rights groups on how to manage and use our wildlife,” said Minister Mokaila.

    Yet you will allow yourself to be dictated to by trophy hunting organizations?

    Tell me Mr Mokaila, in the past, how much did Botswana gain from trophy hunting organizations in your country? What taxes did they pay? What profits were hidden abroad (I have the names of those operators if you should want them)? What benefit to communities?

    Reply
    • May 13, 2019 at 11:35 am
      Permalink

      Why Botswana Environment Minister Was Attacked For Urging Africans To Use Their Wildlife
      By Emmanuel Koro
      Kasane, Botswana, 13 May 2019
      The western people and African people have very different wildlife use values. In Africa, we want to use our wildlife wisely to benefit wildlife conservation and also to ensure that in the process, wildlife brings us socioeconomic benefits. In sharp contrast, most of the western people are totally opposed to wildlife use, including elephant hunting.
      Therefore, while African people applauded the Botswana Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Honourable Onkokame Mokaila for warning them last week; that if Africans do not use their wildlife they would remain beggars forever, some few western people attacked him suggesting that use of wildlife would lead to Botswana’s ruin.
      I will choose to focus on Nigel G Goodman’s attack on Minister Mokaila that was reacting to the story entitled “Non-use of wildlife will make Africans beggars forever” – published on a South Africa-based pro-sustainable use NGO, the True Green Alliance’s Facebook and also in several southern African countries newspapers.
      I happen to be the writer of the story and what I discovered is that Africans and western people have different conservation values with the westerners violating African people and govenrments’ sovereign rights to use our resources the way we wish to; by telling us not to use them.
      While Minister Mokaila was communicating with African people when he warned them that they would be beggars forever if they don’t use their wildlife, a Western country national Mr Goodman bulldozed his way into this debate, threatening Minister Mokaila with westerner economic sanctions if ever Botswana chooses to start hunting its elephants.
      What an idle threat that I really would like to advise Minister Mokaila and the people of Botswana to ignore because Botswana has hunted elephants before and there was no western country that boycotted its tourism nor diamonds. Also, when you look at the world peace, crime levels and terrorist attacks happening in different parts of the world, southern Africa and Botswana, in particular, are the must-visit tourist destinations.
      Therefore, I was not surprised when I recently flew to one of Botswana’s must-visit tourist destination in a plane that was packed with almost 100% white passengers travelling to Botswana’s iconic Chobe National Park where wildlife of all types ranging from elephants, lion, leopard, buffalo and giraffe can be stunningly viewed at a close range while on a boating cruise on the beautiful Chobe River or while on game drive in Chobe National Park. That is evident enough to show how popular Botswana is as a tourist destination to westerners and they will not stop visiting just because elephant hunting has started in that beautiful and sunny country.
      There is no way that the resumption of hunting would stop people coming to feast their eyes on Botswana’s natural wonders as Mr Goodman is forcing the world to believe. Tourists are running away from crime and terrorism threatened regions and Mr Goodman just needs to make an assessment for himself to see where in Africa would tourists rather travel to, in order to themselves without being inspected when they enter hotels, shopping malls and airports. Southern Africa of which Botswana is part is clearly that region!

      Minister Mokaila said that the biggest threat to successful wildlife conservation and to the economic well being in Africa is because the outsiders (western countries and animal rights groups) who continue to dictate to Africa on how it should manage and use its wildlife “as if we don’t know how to do it ourselves.”
      He warned animal rights groups that they are not welcome in Botswana. Mr Goodman is part of that threat.
      Mr Nigel Goodman is completely blinded by his slave-master, colonial master and his evident racist attitude towards the African race that he still does not take heed of Minister Kitso Mokaila’s appeal to arrogant western people not to continue violating African countries’ sovereign rights to manage their natural resources, including elephants.
      It is also evident from Mr Goodman’s attack on Mr Mokaila that he is so intoxicated by a higher race mentality similar to that of King Leopold Of Belgium who believed that the higher races as you assume western people to be, should teach Africans civilization.
      In this case, Mr Goodman thinks that western people should dictate to Africans on how to manage their wildlife including elephants, as seen in his response to Minister Mokaila’s statements.
      Mr Goodman further ignores that the Botswana Minister and his Government’s intention to start elephant hunting is part of democratic management of wildlife which is a response to a recently held consultative process. That process found that the people of Botswana support elephant hunting as evidenced by the quote below from an affected Botswana citizen:
      “I support President Masisi 100% that elephant hunting must come back as we have heard him say that on local television station and in different media,” said a resident of Parakarungu village, Chobe District, Mr David Mbanga.
      Mr David Mbanga’s wish to having hunting back is similar to that all Botswana rural residents. Mr Mbanga said that the former President Ian Khama imposed ban on elephant hunting came to a disappointment because he never consulted us the people. Incredible. It was like we were dreaming when he announced it.

      Fortunately, President Masisi quickly stepped in to restore the hopes Botswana’s wildlife-rich rural communities such as Chobe District, to once again benefit from elephant hunting that generates most of the hunting revenue.
      Therefore, it is not true as Mr Goodman would like to twist the facts that Botswana Government’s intention to restart elephant hunting is aimed at winning rural votes in the forthcoming elections in that southern African country. In any democracy, you do what people want. Ironically, it is Mr Goodman who is not democratic and is coming up with empty economic sanctions threats to force Botswana not to do what its people are asking for – elephant hunting.
      Botswana is indeed a sovereign state and its intention to resume elephant hunting is informed by the wishes of Botswana rural residents and not by western countries trophy hunting organisations as Mr Goodman is shamelessly misleading people to believe.
      Before announcing his intention to resume wildlife hunting, including elephant hunting that was single-handendly imposed on that country by former President Ian Khama in 2013, the current President Mokgweetsi Masisi asked his cabinet ministers, including Environment Minister Mokaila to consult the rural people to find out whether they like or dislike hunting. The answer was a unanimous yes.
      So who do Mr Goodman and other westerners think they are to want to force people and the Government of Botswana not to hunt by issuing idle tourism boycotts to a peaceful country such as Botswana.
      Mr Goodman needs to know that he will not succeed to tell westerners to stop visiting the peaceful, almost crime-free Botswana that is also not threatened with terrorism.
      Please Mr Goodman and other western citizens who think like you, I urge you to stop being a bad man by interfering with African people’s sovereign rights to manage and use wildlife in practical ways that are good for the wellbeing of wildlife and the people.

      Elephant hunting is and will continue to be an important part of all southern African countries’ rural economies. You asked for proof to show how elephant hunting revenue socioeconomic benefits in Botswana. There is tangible evidence in Botswana itself to show how elephant hunting revenue was used to promote rural development projects in Botswana.
      I urge you to jump on a plane Botswana and see for yourself the rural poverty-busting investments that were made in that country’s rural communities that live side by side with wildlife. A case in point is the Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust (CECT), a community-based development agency that is credited for its promising efforts to lift the Chobe Enclave Rural Community out of poverty. It has achieved this over the past 20 years through the careful management of funds generated from wildlife hunting (especially elephant hunting that generates more revenue) when hunting was still allowed in Botswana and lately through comparatively less lucrative non-consumptive tourism projects such as bird-watching and lodge business partnerships.

      One of the Chobe Enclave Rural Community’s flagship projects is the upmarket (four-star) Ngoma Safari Lodge that it runs jointly and viably with a private sector partner, Albida Tourism under a renewable 20-year lease agreement. The CECT can take-over the Lodge when the lease period expires. So far, indications are that the Community is happy with the current partner. While the Ngoma Safari Lodge is certainly generating good revenue for the Chobe Enclave Rural Community, they could be getting more income if sustainable hunting was part of their business model.

      For many years before former President of Botswana Ian Khama’s sudden ban of wildlife hunting, including elephant hunting in 2013, most of the money that this rural community earned came from elephant hunting. The hunting revenue was used to finance the CECT office and community projects such as the milling project, poverty alleviation projects that include skills development to prepare villagers for employment and purchase of a tractor. They also built a Parakarungu shop that they currently lease out to a private company. Among other important projects, they run a general dealer shop in Mabele Village and a grinding mill in Parakarungu Village. The CECT has a bank account and its finances are audited by a professional auditing company. The CECT office is run by 31 employees with an approved 2019 annual salary budget of US$178 236.39.

      This is how the elephant hunting economy has largely contributed towards creating opportunities for socioeconomic development in Botswana.

      Sadly, it is people like you Mr Goodman who are going to mess up conservation and development in Botswana by supporting the wildlife hunting ban because without benefits from wildlife following the Ian Khama imposed and non-consultative wildlife ban, including elephant hunting there is already a threat to wildlife conservation in Botswana.
      A retired Botswana-based safari operator who has been involved with hunting and photographic safari businesses for the past 40 years, Mr Mark John Kyriacou said he felt sorry that the ban on all types of hunting made a lot of poor rural residents suffer immensely.
      “The ban has hurt poor people,” said Mr Kyriacou. “I don’t have a problem that Ian Khama dislikes hunting. That is his view. But the point is that he (Ian Khama) is not the people of Botswana. He was the President of Botswana when he made the ban and he was put there by the people of Botswana,” said Mr Kyriacou. “Therefore he must have done what the people want. The people of Botswana want to continue hunting.”

      Without benefits from hunting benefits, Botswana rural residents currently don’t see the need to conserve wildlife because they are only paying for the costs of living with wildlife. For example, when leopards and hyenas kill Botswana rural communities’ goats and lions kill their cattle; the villagers are resorting to poisoning them in defense of their livestock and socioeconomic wellbeing. In the long term, such continuous revenge or defensive wildlife kills would hurt the non-consumptive tourism industry that earns Botswana handsome tourism revenue annually.

      Fed up with living with wildlife that brings them costs highlighted above without benefits, the people have told the Government and their ministers that “these are your animals, you must come and take them away if we cannot use them and you don’t take them away we will kill them.”

      However, there is now increasing hope that not only the Chobe Enclave Rural Community but also other Botswana rural communities could soon earn more revenue through wildlife hunting. This follows the recent signal from President Mogkweetsi Masisi to resume wildlife hunting anytime in the future in Botswana, probably this year.

      “My reaction to President Masisi is very favourable,” said Mr Kyriacou. It’s the best thing he can do (lift the ban on hunting). He must do it carefully, making sure that the benefits go to the communities and not the people who come to take advantage of hunting.”

      Therefore, westerners such as Mr Goodman should not attack Botswana Environment Minister Mokaila for urging fellow African countries, including people of his country Botswana to use their wildlife through activities such as elephant hunting to avoid risking being beggars forever. Sovereign African states now need trade, not aid, in order to independently manage their wildlife using approaches that work in Africa.

      The lesson that we have learned over the years is that a ban in elephant hunting and even ivory trade does not help stop elephant poaching but it actually fuels it.

      I have always seen it as a cowardly and bullying act by almost all western nationals who continue to use African states as their ‘punching bags’ by telling them not to use their wildlife consumptively yet they do not dare tell oil producing countries to stop oil rigging and sales because this is harmful to both wildlife, humankind and causes climate change. Why don’t they tell countries like Iran, to stop oil rigging and sales because this is harmful to both wildlife, humankind and causes climate change? Double standards and cowardly acts. I challenge anyone of these racist Western animal rights groups and the equally racist media to tell Iran to stop producing oil and we would like to see if this might not cause a full-scale war. Equally, these racist Western animal rights groups and their racist Western media would not dare tell the USA to stop using oil because they know President Donald Trump would be the first one to tell them to go jump in a lake of fire fanned by oil.

      Now we know the power relations with the wildlife and environmental conservation debate are characterized by the condescending thinking that superpowers (including western countries where Mr Goodman comes from) think that they are our slave masters and Africans are the servants.

      However, this is not going to stop African countries such as Botswana and its fellow southern African countries to use their resources in ways that benefit wildlife conservation and their people. That is why Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe met at the Kasane Elephant summit last week and came up with a common southern African vision for the management of elephants.

      They agreed that the world must know the truth that conservation without the people does not and would never work in Africa.
      The Kasane Elephant Summit comes at a time when many southern African countries were increasingly becoming anxious to know if Botswana had been captured by animal rights groups. This followed its untoward behaviour and decision to vote for up-listing southern African elephant populations to CITES Appendix I; at the 17th CITES meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016.
      “This was a directive from former Minister of Environment Tshekedi Khama, without consulting the cabinet,” said Minister Mokaila. He also went against SADC’s pro-sustainable use position without consulting SADC.”
      That decision by Botswana’ former Environment Minister Khama was no different from a football player who deliberately scores an own goal on home soil in a World Cup that many would like won on home soil against all odds, in order to lift the spirits of its people. But that was the Botswana of yesterday under former President Khama. The Botswana of today under President Masisi is pro-sustainable use.
      “This is why we have invited SADC states to the Kasane Elephant Summit, in order to work towards a common elephant management and use approach in Africa,” said Minister Mokaila.
      African wildlife conservation (including that of Botswana) shall never be a western wildlife conservation experiment again because the western anti-wildlife-use approach has failed dismally to promote wildlife conservation and poverty alleviation in African rural communities.
      About the Writer:
      Emmanuel Koro is Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.

      Reply

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