LATEST: Former Botswana president Ian Khama under fire!


Former Botswana president Ian Khama has been criticised for aiding UK lawmakers in their efforts to enact a ban on trophy hunting product imports, a major source of livelihood and income for southern countries with large wildlife populations.

Botswana environment and tourism minister Dumezweni Mthimkhulu told journalists drawn from the SADC region on Thursday that Khama’s anti-hunting campaigns in the UK and Europe were misguided and counterproductive to the millions of people who survive on wildlife consumptive tourism.

He said his actions calling for the enforcement of a blanket ban on trophy hunting was a threat to the sustainable benefits local communities and other players derive from wildlife.

“l want to let the world know that our people will be affected,” he said.

“Why is he lobbying for the trophy hunting ban which brings earnings to local communities, creates employment and brings income for the Batswana. Khama has a heavy interest in non-consumptive tourism. We used to hold him in high esteem, hold him like a deity but now he is working against the Batswana national interest and that of the region.

“He is being harboured by South Africa and his actions will destroy their tourism industry just like ours.”

A number of wildlife players and community-based organisations in Botswana have expressed dismay, citing concerns that Khama, who had previously enacted a hunting ban during his presidency, is now supporting anti-hunting campaigns in the UK with damaging implications for Sadc countries.

The Botswana government and other organisations say his campaign trail in Europe in favour of the trophy hunting ban has a potential negative impact on livelihoods and wildlife conservation efforts.

The Botswana Wildlife Producers Association and several community groups in that country say sustainable hunting is needed to safeguard their livelihoods.

Proceeds from trophy hunts in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia help to reduce the impact of human-wildlife conflicts on community livelihoods.

Hunting is a major revenue generator for the southern African rangeland countries and this has faced fierce opposition from animal rights and welfare activists in Europe and North America.

The groups have lobbied for more stringent regulations to be put in place by their governments.

In addition, the groups have persuaded CITES to adopt increasingly onerous conditions to trade in CITES-listed hunting trophies.

“We are concerned that Western countries have in the recent past proposed more stringent requirements for hunting trophies to enter their countries,” Mthimkhulu said.

“Countries like the UK and France are in the process of considering legislation which prohibits hunting trophies from entering their territories while others like Canada and Belgium have even gone as far as to completely ban the import of hunting trophies.”

He expressed concern that most of these countries had not consulted the countries where trophies originate from contrary to recommendations from CITES that urge countries to consult a range of states prior to enacting stricter domestic measures.

“The imposition of bans or more stringent requirements is likely to have serious impacts on the hunting industries in countries such as Botswana and most of our neighbours given that a large proportion of revenues generated from hunting is generated from hunters from North America and Europe,” Mthimkhulu said.

“We are happy that our neighbours and brothers are joining us in this campaign to lobby against the trophy hunting ban.

“We are fully behind all efforts to make sure our people, Batswana enjoy the fruits of conserving wildlife resources.”

Southern African countries strongly oppose moves by Europe to ban trophy hunting.

Southern African rangeland countries argue that the ban has a negative impact on local community livelihoods and conservation efforts.

The countries further argue that a blanket ban overlooks their role in sustainable wildlife management and urges for a more inclusive approach that considers their perspectives and needs.

Southern Africa is home to half of Africa’s elephants and Zimbabwe’s population of more than 84 000 against a carrying capacity of 40 000, is only second to that of Botswana in the world. Herald.

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