Botswana has announced plans to review the blanket hunting ban imposed in 2014 to allow some communities, such as the San, to hunt but only for human consumptive, noncommercial purposes.
In an interview published by the weekly, Sunday Standard, Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Minister Tshekei Khama said a partial easing of the blanket ban was now feasible because fresh wildlife population statistics indicated a generalised increase in the number of animals that had been teetering on the verge of extinction three years ago.
“We are now looking at how we can regulate and monitor how Basarwa (the San people), and other Batswana in general, can be allowed to kill animals for the pot in certain areas. This is because the number of animals we feared were under threat at the time of the hunting ban have increased.
“I strongly believe that we should revisit our conservation strategies and put in place some stringent measures while allowing some members of the community in certain areas to kill for the pot. We need to curb a situation where people exploit Basarwa and use them to kill animals for commercial gain while hiding behind their claim of hunting for local consumption,” Khama said.
Further, the minister said there were ongoing consultations with the relevant security arms with a view to relaxing some of the hunting restrictions in order to allow the San community in the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) to hunt for the pot. In terms of the relaxed regime, members of the San communities are no longer required to apply for 30-day entry permits when visiting relatives who still live inside the CKGR.
However, they are still required to submit themselves and be registered at gazetted entry points for security reasons. Khama said local community members who committed poaching crimes were unlikely to fall victim to the “shoot-to-kill” policy adopted against poachers by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) because it strictly applied to suspects who carried automatic weapons, and not bows and arrows.
The moratorium on hunting, which took effect in January 2014, applied to all controlled hunting areas and hunting management units throughout the country. Further, government banned the issuing of new hunting quotas citing evidence of a nationwide decline in all animal species except elephant and impala.
The decline was blamed on several factors, including widespread, uncontrolled illegal hunting, habitat loss as well as habitat fragmentation due to human encroachment into wildlife areas.
– African News Agency (ANA)