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COVID-19: Botswana's first hunting season in jeopardy

OARABILE MOSIKARE
Dr Erik Verreynne
Despite no COVID-19 cases reported in Botswana, the controversial resumption of hunting has been thrown into doubt due to the dreaded deadly virus.

Botswana Wildlife Producers Association (BWPA) is therefore asking government to extend the hunting season that was due to commence next month.

In an external memo dated March 20, 2020, the association says the COVID-19 pandemic has severe consequences for the hunting outbreak.

Chronicling its troubles, BWPA’s Dr Eric Verreynne said in a statement: “Booked management hunts for the next few months already resulted in many cancellation and postponement of the rest. Many hunting clients are not able to fly out of their countries due to travel restrictions. With most of the hunters coming from the US and Europe, which are considered affected areas, access to Botswana from these countries via commercial airlines is virtually impossible, especially as a result of the travel restrictions recently imposed in South Africa and Botswana.”

BWPA on its website also said it is an association of stakeholders with the conservation and management of Botswana’s wildlife as its focus, including sustainable utilisation of natural resources through a process of responsible and ethical management options. The code of conduct embraces the disciplined, ethical and legislated means

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to participate in, co-operate with and benefit from sustainable and controlled hunting activities in Botswana.

Dr Verreynne is of the view that if the outbreak extends for more than three months, the hunting season will be too short to market the full quotas and fill in all hunts.  He says they have to accept negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hunting industry for the next few months will be severe and cash flows will be under pressure.

The hunting lobby proposes extending the hunting season this year, or even allow some of this year’s hunts into next year will allow catching up some lost ground and ensure confidence in Botswana hunting industry and stabilise cash flows to invest in next year’s quotas.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi in 2019 lifted a strict ban on hunting that was introduced to protect wildlife in game-rich Botswana, prompting conservationists to warn of damage to tourism. Former president Ian Khama instituted the ban on wildlife hunting in 2014, and he too was criticised by the hunting community for the ban.



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