I have been asked by many people to give my opinion on Botswana’s wildlife management programme; its elephant management programme in particular; and the current demand by some MPs to have hunting reinstated.
The article – Botswana MPs want wildlife hunting ban lifted ahead of talks – refers.
The TGA is not in a popularity contest with anybody – certainly not with respect to Botswana’s current wildlife management predicament. We just tell the truth as we see it. So read this article and then read my comments which appear after it.
Ron Thomson. CEO. TGA
- Hunting – when it is conducted properly and with discretion – is a valid and essential tool of wildlife management (a.k.a. “conservation”) in a country like Botswana. Hunting is neither incompatible to Botswana’s commitment to what it calls “wildlife conservation” nor to tourism. At the time the hunting ban was applied in 2014, the specific reason provided was that a moratorium on hunting would give the government time to determine why “other game species” populations had declined by between 60 and 90 percent. So the reasons seem to change in tune with the weather. The truth of the matter is, the Botswana government outlawed hunting for no other reason than that its President, Ian Khama, was persuaded to do so by his many animal rightists friends – and personal tourism business partners – who are opposed to hunting on implacable doctrinaire grounds.
NOTE: It is the animal rightists purpose to ABOLISH all animal “uses” by man – including hunting.
- The link between the massive increase in Botswana’s elephant numbers over the last several decades; the destruction of the habitats in the country’s game reserves; and the alarming loss of “other game animal species” in these sanctuaries, is very clear and obvious. Nobody in the country is prepared to challenge President Khama with this observation, however, because it is completely contrary to his beliefs; and to the demands of his animal rightist friends.
- The article talks of 200 000 elephants in Botswana (which is near enough to be considered correct); and that there were 6 100 cases of human-wildlife conflict situations in the country last year (2016) – most of which involved elephants. This is not surprising in a country that is overflowing with elephants!
- Three MPs have called for a resumption of hunting – specifically because of the heavy damage to crops by elephants. If hunting were to be resumed, however, only a relatively few elephant bulls would be removed each year. This would not solve the crop raiding problem (there are simply too many elephants for hunting to cause even a blip in the crop-raiding incidents); and it would not solve Botswana’s equally important loss-of-other-species problem, either. The only action that can solve both these problems is massive elephant population reduction – which is unlikely to be countenanced. And THAT being the true state of affairs, the only thing that Botswana can look forward to is the loss of more and more game species (entire species – not just numbers) inside its wildlife sanctuaries; which will ultimately become deserts. And THAT general state of affairs will most certainly, and very badly, affect Botswana’s tourism industry.
- International conferences are not going to solve these very real problems – which are, in fact, very easy to resolve in practice. All it needs is the application of a little common sense management. Politically, however, the barriers to implementation will be huge.
Rumour has it in Botswana that, over the years of President Ian Khama’s conversion to animal rightism, he has voluntarily become the Director of an International Animal Rights group that is, apparently, backed by America’s Wallmark business empire. Sadly, despite the fact that a resumption of wildlife hunting in Botswana makes good sense all round – for the country’s tourism industry and for the rural people – it is probable that no change will take place now until there is a major regime change in the country.