Gabarone, Botswana, 22 February 2019 – Yesterday, a white paper was submitted to the government, which, if passed, could effectively lift the ban on hunting wildlife in all areas of Botswana that has been in effect since January 2014.
The white paper – a report on the findings of the Cabinet Sub Committee on Hunting Ban Social Dialogue – was officially handed over to the President of the Republic of Botswana, Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi by Botswana’s Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Frans van der Westhuizen on Thursday 21 February 2019.
The report makes recommendations on wildlife utilisation that include suggestions to:
- open up the largely condemned hunting of elephants and all wildlife again;
- the culling of elephants;
- the setting up of canning factories to convert culled elephants into pet food;
- more fences, and;
- the active cutting off of wildlife corridors.
The white paper recommendations have created consternation and concern among safari operators in Botswana.
“When I read the report yesterday, I at first thought it was a cruel April Fools’ Day announcement, but no one is laughing today,” says Dereck Joubert, CEO Great Plains Conservation and Great Plains Foundation.
“I have given this white paper a name and if it passes I believe it should be called ‘Botswana’s Blood Law’.
“Internally we are meeting to understand what it means to Great Plains, to our conservation efforts and to our partners, guests and friends.
“Whilst disturbing, I cannot for a moment believe that any government, let alone Botswana’s, which is world renown for being moderate and well informed, would adopt this policy. We believe that it will be stopped in its tracks but we are soliciting support to help express exactly how shameful it would be to institute a policy such as this.
“I have seen enough dead elephants from the bad guys. I don’t need to see a thousand more piles from our own government.
“I have seen the damage fences can do. We don’t need more fences we need fewer.
“I have promoted connective corridors my whole life, with the science being quite clear: according to the very theories of Darwin and Wallace (Biogeography), that the smaller the island the more likely and rapid the rate of extinction.
“Botswana’s proposed ‘Blood Law’ would be instituting policies to do all of that.
“We will be voicing our opinion against this, as strongly as we can. I will be doing that personally, as the CEO of this company, our foundation, and as large investors in Botswana. Great Plains Conservation will be doing the same.
“As a global community, and a local one, we are better than this and our entire ethos at Great Plains Conservation is based on caring; caring for our communities by sharing revenues and benefits, caring for our guests and partners, and caring for the environment and everything in it.
“Not one element of this white paper is about caring. It is just the opposite, and so, we are registering, via this announcement, that we are opposed to the very substance of the proposal.
“Our pledge to industry partners and guests is that we will do whatever we can to engage legally and respectfully to make sure this ‘Blood Law’ is not passed in Botswana,” concludes Joubert.