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How Safari Hunting Ban Affects Rural Economies

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UB Research Shows That The Ban Is Increasing Levels Of Poverty And Could Encourage Poaching in Botswana

TSHIAMO TABANE

A new study by the University of Botswana Okavango Research Institute has criticized government for introducing safari hunting ban, saying the decision is adversely affecting economies for rural population.
The study has established that the ban which is believed to have been introduced based on President Ian Khama’s personal interest in the tourism business, is negatively affecting livelihoods of people living in the Northern part of Botswana.
The researcher who conducted the study, Professor Joseph Mbaiwa revealed that since the introduction of the safari hunting ban in 2014, the Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) trust operating in Okavango Delta lost around P7 million income and 200 jobs while trusts operating in surrounding villages lost around P7.5 million while 105 staff employed in the CBNRM projects were retrenched. “Other projects in the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Pans experienced job losses totaling about 80 jobs. The Ngamiland CBNRM Forum also noted that other impacts include the looming retrenchments, social responsibility and development funds stopped such as funeral assistance, scholarships, destitute funding, small business funds, sport funds and the loss of meat mostly from elephants. Research shows that except for Khwai, all the other CBNRM projects experienced a decline in revenue generation and employment of staff two years after the hunting ban was introduced,” said the researcher.
Mbaiwa stated that in the Chobe District, interviews with the Chobe Enclave Community Trust (CECT) indicate that the trust had its annual income dropping from P6.5 million to P3.5 million following the ban and 15 jobs were lost and this included game trekkers, escort guides and skinners while the other community trust in the Chobe District known as KALEPA closed down as it wholly relied on safari hunting as compared to other trusts which had an aspect of photographic tourism.
The tourism studies lecturer indicated that another research entity Ecosurv has established that 4 800 livelihoods have been negatively affected by government decision to stop safari hunting. He added that Ecosurv further noted that photographic tourism which was introduced by government to replace safari hunting is failing to replace the lost revenues and jobs. Mbaiwa noted that all former safari hunting concession areas where the CBRM trusts are expected to do photographic tourism are not suitable for photographic tourism.
The researcher said the ban on safari hunting in Northern Botswana will thus continue to increase poverty levels particularly among the San as jobs are lost and they have no income to sustain their livelihoods. “The loss of jobs and income by communities due to the ban on safari hunting suggests that the already high poverty rates in Northern Botswana particularly in Ngamiland District will continue to rise. Although photographic tourism, as carried out in core areas of Northern Botswana is a multi-billion industry, it fails to make a significant contribution to poverty alleviation in peripheral areas where local communities live,” he said.
The researcher stated that following the loss of income and jobs, the communities might feel that they are not obliged to support wildlife conservation in their areas, as it used to happen with safari hunting. “The ban on safari hunting is reportedly reversing positive attitudes of local communities towards wildlife conservation previously achieved during the safari hunting period to negative attitudes in Northern Botswana.”
According to the researcher there is no scientific study that has so far proved that safari hunting in Botswana was carried out in unsustainable basis to warrant a ban in 2014. “Conversely, there is evidence that safari hunting in Botswana was regulated particularly through the quota system to promote sustainability. The wildlife quota system provides for selective hunting hence it is regulated such that only old male animals were killed, leaving female animals with the young reproductive bulls to continue with the reproductive cycle.”  The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism did not respond to this publication inquiry regarding the research and its findings.

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