Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Botswana's Ban On Hunting Harmful

Botswana's controversial decision not to issue hunting licences, either commercial or private as from 2014 can lead to several unintended consequences. An expert from South Africa's North West University believes Botswana's ban on hunting may may improve revenue from hunting for neighbouring countries, while at the same time, draw attention by poachers to Botswana's wildlife.

Botswana President, Lt Gen Ian Khama said the decision not to issue hunting licences was taken to protect Botswana's fauna, because hunting licences encourage poaching.

However, according to Prof Melville Saayman of the NorthWest University's Potchefstroom Campus, the opposite is true.

"Botswana wants to ban hunting in view of combating game poaching, but the problem is that it is going to have a reversed effect. Kenya went exactly the same way. They also banned hunting and are currently sitting with a huge game poaching problem, so much so that some of their species face total extinction."

"The strategy proposed by Botswana is short-sighted and is not going to work. Game numbers will decline and it is going to have a serious impact on the hunting and game farm industry in the country," Saayman said.

"Case studies from South Africa have shown that as soon as the hunting of a species is allowed, it leads to the breeding as well as conservation of the particular species. Botswana's policy is definitely going to lead to job losses, since it concerns professional hunters and many other professions."

According to Saayman it can, in the short term, be to the advantage of South Africa and Namibia, since professional hunters will have to find their means of livelihood elsewhere.

However, the long-term picture does not look rosy.

"As wildlife in Botswana declines, poachers will also look for another means of livelihood, and they can find it in South Africa. This can place immense pressure on our game industry."

"Game poachers from Zimbabwe and Mozambique are a big headache. Add poachers from Botswana and it can become a nightmare."

The South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, recently said at a hunting indaba held at Sun City, that the government commits itself to the growth and expansion of South Africa's hunting industry.

Saayman reckons it can only have good consequences.

"This is a very positive step seen in the light that the value of this industry is approximately R6 milliard per annum and that it still has a lot of growth potential."

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