The Department of Wildlife and National Parks is scheduled to offer 86 elephant hunting licences for citizens through raffles at various dikgotla today, Mmegi has learnt.
Government recently declared the opening of the hunting season for 2019, with a citizen reserve quota of 86 licences for elephants and an open quota of 72 licences. The citizen hunting quotas for elephants cover areas in Ngamiland, Central District and North East.
The licences for elephants cost P8,000 each and the trophy from the animals cannot be exported. The licences can also not be transferred to a non-citizen.
“Whoever secures a licence, when they go for the hunt, they will be required to be in the company of a licensed professional hunter and officials from the Department of Wildlife, as well as their team of trackers and people who will process the carcass,” Wildlife officials told Mmegi yesterday on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to Press.
“The trophy including the tusks cannot be exported and they must be kept by the licence holder. “The Department will carry out frequent inspections to ensure the tusks are with the licence holder.”
Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism minister, Kitso Mokaila told Mmegi citizens were deliberately the focus of the current hunting season, the first a moratorium was put in place in 2014.
“For this period, our focus is on Batswana and we are starting off cautiously and slowly,” he said. “The low price for citizen licences in the raffle is to make it affordable for them and we have located the quotas in areas that are hotspots for human animal conflict.
“For now, this season is to test our hunting guidelines, to see if we are achieving what we want to achieve.” Mmegi is informed that having used this season as a test of guidelines, general demand among communities for the licences and effectiveness of modalities, the ‘real’ hunting season will kick off between March and September next year.
The latest developments have been met with apprehension by observers who say the limitations placed on the citizen elephant hunting licences will have an impact on the demand at today’s raffles.
On Wednesday, the ministry released a statement stressing that citizen elephant licences were not transferable to foreigners.
“Under no circumstances will non-citizens be allowed to hunt elephants on quota for citizens,” the statement reads.
“A Department of Wildlife and National Parks officer will escort each elephant hunt (and) hunters will be required to produce valid identity documentation prior to embarking on the hunt.” Observers said the limitations reduced the value available for Batswana in participating in the raffles.
“It reduces the benefits individual Batswana and the larger community can get,” an industry insider told Mmegi this week.
“Few Batswana may want to pay P8,000 for a licence just for the thrill of hunting the elephant. You can’t do anything with the trophy; you can have the meat and skin but that’s it.
“Even if elephants were a problem in your area, would you pay P8,000 to kill each one, or just wait for Wildlife to deal with them?
“Value comes from exporting the trophies or the thrill and excluding the foreigners limits that.”
Another industry insider described the size of the citizen elephant hunting quota as a surprise. “Before, you would put in an application at a Wildlife Office and that would act as an Expression of Interest allowing Wildlife to gauge the size of quotas in certain areas.
“We are saying some of these areas, the citizen quota has never been there before etc.
“The citizen hunting quota has never been so big and it’s a large quota over a very short left in the season.
“Also, that quota does not speak to the real reason why hunting was lifted, which was to help communities, reduce the human animal conflict and give people the ability to tolerate an overabundant population.”
All eyes today will be on dikgotla in Ngamiland, which at 56 has the largest licences available for raffle.