The direct auction of various trophy hunting quotas by communities across the country, kicks off today with 15 elephants due to go under the hammer at Bobonong kgotla, amongst other species.
Proceeds from the auctions go directly into the pockets of communities, via their trusts, and will be used for various developmental programmes. This is the first time the auctions have taken place since the moratorium on hunting imposed in 2014.
According to data presented in 2018 by former Maun East MP, Kostantinos Markus, community trusts went from earning P11.3 million in revenues from hunting prior to 2014, before plummeting to P5.6m in 2015 and even lower in later years.
Government lifted the hunting moratorium last May and since then, a non-exportable citizen quota and special elephant quota, targeted at international trophy hunters, have been conducted. The auctions kicking off however today allow communities to directly offer their allotted species for the upcoming hunting season to locally registered safari hunting operators, who will on-sell to international trophy hunters.
“The lifting of the hunting moratorium will revive numerous community-based organisations that became financially defunct following the moratorium as a result of the unviability of their marginal lands for non-consumptive purposes,” the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said in a statement recently.
“The controlled hunting programme will generate significant conservation benefits and support to community livelihoods that have been devoid since the implementation of the hunting moratorium.”
According to documents seen by Mmegi, in Bobonong, the Masego, Molema, Mmadinare and Mapanda Trusts have recruited Auctioneers Botswana to conduct the auction which will be headlined by the 15 elephants on offer. The auction is split into six lots, also featuring two leopards, duiker, steenbok, ostrich, impala and kudu and a refundable deposit
In two weeks’ time, the Paleka Community Trust in Chobe is also using Auctioneers Botswana to sell off its allotment of 10 elephants and other species including leopards and zebras as a single lot. Bidders are required to pay a refundable deposit of P600,000, which must clear before the auction.
Other communities across the country in areas such as Kweneng District, Ngamiland, Gantsi and Kgalagadi district have opted to use a sealed bid approach for their allotments. Tender closing dates for the bids range from March 9 to March 26 in order for winning operators to secure international clients ahead of the opening of the hunting season which will run from April to September.
Documents seen by Mmegi show that the hunting guidelines for the auctions appear designed to retain as much value in the community and the country. As a condition of winning, bidders are required to hire community escort guides and provide them with transport from their homes and back. In addition, while bidding is open to international clients, they have to use Botswana registered safaris hunting companies when hunting.
Insiders in the safari hunting sector told Mmegi the upcoming auctions were expected to raise significant sums for communities and their development initiatives.
The last auctions, which was the special elephant quota open to trophy hunters and conducted on February 7, raised P25 million from 60 elephants auctioned. Through central government, part of the proceeds will be channelled back to the communities most affected by elephants.