In September at a Wildlife Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, alongside hundreds of other animal advocates, I celebrated the news, “Hunting has been banned in Botswana.”
Botswana would join the ranks of the handful of other African countries legally prohibiting hunting.
“We have endured 50 years or more of conservation by the gun in many parts of Africa and the one lesson we can take away is that it does not work,” Derek Joubert, National Geo Explorer in Residence in Botswana, told the audience.
Now, after reading the following January 23rd, 2014 press release I’m less celebratory about the news.
January 23, 2014 Press Release:
HUNTING BAN IN BOTSWANA – MESSAGE FROM PERMANENT SECRETARY of BOTWANA
The Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism wishes to inform the public about the ban on hunting of wildlife in all controlled hunting areas in Botswana with effect from January 2014. No quotas, licenses or permits will be issued for hunting of Part I and Part II Schedule game animals as listed in the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act.
Licenses will continue to be issued for game birds listed in Part III of the same Act subject to conditions to be determined by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Hunting in registered game ranches will not be affected by the ban.
The decision to temporarily ban hunting has been necessitated by available information which indicates that several species in the country are showing declines. The causes of the decline are likely due to a combination of factors such as anthropogenic impacts, including illegal offtake and habitat fragmentation or loss.
The suspension of hunting will allow my Ministry to work with all relevant stakeholders in understanding the causes of the decline and where possible, to put in remedial measures to reserve the trend.
My Ministry will continue to monitor wildlife trends using suitable methodologies and regularly update the public on the status of the wildlife resource.
The Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism would like to thank all members of the public for their cooperation.
Neil Fitt, Permanent Secretary – MEWT
The truth behind Botswana’s Hunting Ban
is that it includes these exceptions:
1. Certain birds are allowed to be killed
2. In certain areas – the “registered game ranches” – hunting will still be allowed
3. The ‘ban’ is only temporary –allowing the government to study the reasons behind the decline – before they once again lift the ban
I imagine the government study will reveal one of the main reasons behind the decline of most of Botswana’s wildlife is: (no surprise here) hunting.
So, once they determine the cause is hunting, then they will lift the ban on hunting?
I don’t know about you, but I find the ‘Botswana Bans Hunting’ announcement misleading and confusing.
In a separate press statement, The Botswana Ministry spokesperson, Ms Caroline Bogale-Jaiyoba has explained “ the countrywide aerial survey of 2012, and an analysis of trends since 1987, showed significant overall declines in particular of tsessebe, sitatunga, lechwe and springbok. Of particular concern, is the fact that all the surveyed species except elephant and impala declined in at least one protected area.“
She continued, “this was noteworthy, as protected areas were traditionally considered to be wildlife refuges.”
Ms. Bogale-Jaiyeoba, makes a good point. Protected areas are considered to be wildlife ‘refuges.’
And, I would add, country-wide hunting bans are considered (by me at least) to mean official exclusions of hunting, with no exceptions, throughout the country imposing the ban.
But as is often the case in wildlife advocacy, things aren’t always what they appear to be.
*The photo of the hunters with dead rhino is in South Africa and taken off of Face book.