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:

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. 


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15 Replies to “Botswana Bans Hunting”

  1. A hunting ban is good. It should be that way all throughout East Africa and South Africa. National wildlife parks should be expanded, and there should be a total ban on all animal parts being sold or traded, used for human consumption, or as decorative trinkets and trophies. Any animals needed for human consumption should be farmed, domestic animals.

  2. I agree with liddia centafont. I have hunted all my life in Botswana, have seen herds of eland and ghemsbok
    Congregating in the hundreds, so ttame that you could touch them. Botswana has lots of game and I person aaaaa lly dont see a decline. I have travelled on the ground by land cruiser, far and wide.. Witnessed herds of springbok in the kalahari in 2012, and herds of buffalo and lechwe in NG25 in 99′ numbering a good thousand. Poaching by peope of the law is also rife.

  3. Hi IKS, thanks for commenting. It is good to have various views. I don’t know who Liddia Centafont is or what you are agreeing with in regards to them. My reaction to your comment is that just because there are lots of animals, doesn’t give us the right to shoot them. We share this earth with other creatures and trophy hunting does not incorporate that fact. There are lots of humans on earth, way too many (if you saw my recent post called Meet Wildlife Hero Dave Forman) and yet you are going around shooting them, are you?
    Thanks for stopping by the blog.

  4. Does this mean the end of the Kalahari way of life? Will an entire culture be prsecuted for living as they have for thousands of years?

  5. This is such an important issue you bring up here and I was planning on writing a whole other post about it because it is so complex and sad and these San Bush people whom I think you are referring to deserve so much. Thank you for raising this Ben.

  6. Stopping the controlled selective culling of wild animals in national parks will not lead to the regeneration of populations to levels seen in the historic past. Habitats are insufficiently large to cope with uncontrolled population increase. It is a sad fact that human expansion in Africa and globally has caused irreversible habitat contraction to the point where sustainable populations of wildlife cannot be increased past a certain size.
    Commercial hunting is an important source of tourism revenue and provides jobs in an area with very few employment sources. From a personal perspective I enjoy cull hunting but trophy hunts do not interest me and I would argue that African plains game would benefit from controlled culls by tourists who will pay outrageous sums of money to provide a wildlife service to the ecosystem. Trophy hunting breeds gradually more inferior specimens as the most impressive are shot whereas cull hunting produces gradually more impressive healthy beasts as the old, sick and dangerous beasts are removed from the herds. Scotland has proven this to be the case. I have been there and the deer herds are phenomenal.

  7. They need to stop the poaching of the animals if you regulat hunting the right way it works we just need to study the best way to do that I live in Ashe county north carinila and we still have a deer problem I wish you had to take 2 does befor you get a buck tag and spotlightting is the bigest thing most real big deer are shot after dark so we have problems all over the world but we need to stand up and take care of the animals god put us over the animals for a reason

  8. It is poaching, not hunting that leads to population decline. I believe that trophy hunting with controlled quotas of non endangered animals actually helps conservation in 2 ways:
    1.private companies make huge efforts to stop illegal poaching, since they can earn up to 50000£ from one animal.
    2.the poor, who turn to poaching to support themselves, turn into guides which gives them a legal and lucrative job.

  9. I just would like to say that Africa is the last place on earth where beautiful majestic creatures live completely wild. Here in the US we will only see these animals in zoos and I hate seeing them in small cages. Also I dont know how anyone can justify killing an animal as majestic as a male lion knowing that once that animal is killed all of his cubs will be killed without his protection. Especially elephants, lioness, and white rhinos. Once theses animals are gone tourism to Africa will really decline. We need to think before we as humans cause their extinctions.

  10. Deva makes a great point. I have been to Africa several times and have spent quite a bit of time researching the impacts of hunting and conservation. While legalized hunting requires a license and trophy fees, poachers kill indiscriminately. Once legalized hunting has been outlawed, the damage poaching causes to animal populations is devastating. Poachers are like narco-traffickers except they traffic in animals. They carry AK-47’s. They can take out more animals of a certain species in a week than hunters kill of that species in a year. Once you outlaw hunting, poachers can only be held at bay by the government because there are no longer private citizens who have rights to the land and an economic interest in protecting the animals who live on that land. Countries where hunting has been made illegal have seen their animal populations decimated. If you want to see animal populations thrive, then you should support hunting. While killing an animal is a gruesome idea, money spent to harvest that animal goes towards conservation. Hunters have a huge interest in conservation because without good habitat for the animals, there will be no animals to hunt.Nothing dies of old age in the wild. A quick kill by a rifleman is probably much preferred to the slow and painful death of being eaten alive. Emotion has to be taken out so the situation can be analyzed pragmatically. I believe that when it comes to the topic of saving the animals, well-meaning people often hurt what they love most.

  11. Hello Mara,
    I read your article and know that what you say is true. Tourism has gone overboard, seeking the thrill or the photograph over the safety of the wildlife that the tourist has come all the way to Africa to see. As a leader of tours I tell my clients that the animals come first. We once watched a cheetah mom teach her cubs how to kill.
    We did not move the truck, not did we take any photos at all so as not to disturb the silence of the bush while the cubs crouched behind mom quietly approaching their prey. Unfortunately, our vehicle was the exception as other drivers, encouraged by their guests, kept stalking the cheetah. It is so sad and disheartening to watch the suffering caused to the animals that the people have come to Africa to see because of their ‘love’ for the animals. We need to keep raising awareness about these issues. Thank you for doing so.

  12. Banned hunting should be Worldwide, I congragulate all countries who have the courage to do it earlier than others.

    It is a first step to animal and nature respect – still a long way to go- that everyone with a brain and a heart should support. Still, we have to ban all other activities that leads to killing, such animal experiment and meat production (first cause of natural habitat destruction in the World is cattle food production).

    Respect our beautiful World… Go Vegan!

    Valéry Schollaert – Director of Wildlife Explorers (Uganda) – 25 years + of professional bird guiding and teaching

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