Former president Ian Khama, who in 2014 summarily imposed a hunting ban on wildlife nationwide without any consultation, has defended his move.
Two months ago, the ruling party legislators finally found their voice against the Khama directive during the Maun East MP Kostantinos Markus’ motion that requested government to lift the hunting ban.
Khama, who was interestingly not aware that Parliament has recently adopted a motion calling on the government to lift his ban, says he imposed the restriction because there was a decline in animal populations.
“The hunting ban was imposed to address a situation whereby we found that we were having a decline in animal populations.
“And because tourism is so vital to this economy and to employment creation, and we know that our tourism is mostly wildlife-based in Botswana,” Khama argued.
He further said he imposed the ban because of the rouge elements in the hunting industry and that there were a lot of bad practices.
Khama said, “During the time of hunting, the hunters themselves were also cheating by shooting more than what they were supposed to. And it was contributing to the decline of wildlife”.
The former president went on to say that because some of the hunting areas were adjacent to the game parks, hunters used to lure animals from the parks so that they could shoot them.
Khama said his major plan and the legacy he wanted to leave, was to replace hunting with a much sustainable photographic tourism.
“A major factor and for me, the most important one other than stopping the decline, was that
Khama also argued that with photographic safaris, the country would also get to employ more people, since there were more visitors and hence more revenue than once-off revenue from hunting concessions.
Khama also defended claims that only one family, the Jourbets (National Geographic filmmakers who are close Khama friends) were the ones who influenced him and were now the major beneficiary of his ban.
“There is no single family that can influence a president, and certainly nobody, and referring to them, they (Jourbet family) did not influence me to do that (ban),” Khama claimed.
He admitted that the hospitality industry used to be mainly white people, but indigenous Batswana are getting in, in large numbers.
“When we started in this business (hospitality industry), you would find all managers ele makgoa, guides ele makgoa hela, today ke Batswana. These lodges are being managed by Batswana and it is a good thing to see because it used to not be like that,” Khama asserted.
After Parliament’s adoption of the lifting of the hunting ban motion, President Masisi tasked Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi with consulting widely with Batswana before he could make a decision on the matter.
The consultations are currently ongoing and in almost all the Kgotla meetings, the people are saying bring back hunting.