Changing Planet

No More Hunting of Any Kind in Botswana…

The President of Botswana, Lieutenant General Ian Khama, announced recently at a public meeting in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta, that no further hunting licenses would be issued from 2013, and that all hunting in Botswana would be impossible by 2014. This new ban extends to all ‘citizen hunting’ and covers all species, including elephant and lion that can only be shot when designated as “problem animals”. President Khama stated that ecotourism has become increasingly important for Botswana and contributes more than 12% of their overall GDP, noting that wildlife control measure through issuance of hunting licenses had reached its limit. Furthermore, he said the issuance of hunting licenses had fueled poaching and the resultant “catastrophic” declines in wildlife, while preventing sustained growth in the tourism industry. The global tourism industry must support this move by sending thousands more tourists to see Botswana’s natural heritage. Next year, the Okavango Delta will be nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and what better way to celebrate than this halt of the issuance of hunting licenses…


Steve Boyes
Migrating elephants spread across the fertile floodplains of Mombo where some of the world's most pristine wilderness remains... (Steve Boyes /
Steve Boyes
The abundance of life on a floodplain in the center of the Okavango Delta. Wildlife in the Moremi Game Reserve has not been hunted for generations and have always been seen as the "royal hunting grounds". What will a ban on all commercial hunting achieve? (Steve Boyes)
Global Hunting Resources /
Cape buffalo are the most dangerous member of Africa's "Big 5" and are a sought after trophy in Botswana, where they are restricted to protected areas due to the cattle industry. (Global Hunting Resources /


In 2011, Dr Mike Chase ( released results from aerial surveys over the Okavango Delta that demonstrated that the populations of some wildlife species had been decimated by hunting, poaching and veldt fires over the last decade. These research findings found that 11 species have declined by 61 percent since a 1996 survey in the Ngamiland district.

Ostrich numbers declined by 95 percent, while 90 percent of wildebeest were also wiped out, along with 84 percent of antelope tsessebe, 81 percent of warthogs and kudus, and nearly two-thirds of giraffes.

Dr Chase said that: “The numbers  of wildebeest have fallen below the minimum of 500 breeding pairs to be sustainable. They are on the verge of local extinction”. On the ground, the Department fo Wildlife & National Parks have seen lion populations dwindle in protected areas like the Khutse Game Reserve, Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve and the Kgalagadi Trans-Frontier Park, where human-wildlife conflict has been escalating for over a decade. Lion hunting was suspended in 2007. These visionary policy choices are an example to other African countries that depend on revenue from ecotourism, but have been strongly opposed by several conservation groups in Botswana that argue hunting quotas issued to local communities near wildlife management areas are a heritage right and empower these villages. Another argument against the ban is that some areas are simply unsuitable for photographic safaris and hunting operations are the only economically viable option. There is no doubt that wildlife hunting has a role to play in local economies and in the funding of private conservation efforts. This is a significant move by the Botswana government and we must watch developments over the next few years very carefully. Will the elephants destroy the forests and the lions eat the last wildebeest? Will illegal poaching become more of a problem? Will Botswana blossom with a booming ecotourism industry? Will rural communities disagree with not being able to hunt wildlife they have depended upon for generations? There are still going to be hungry people in Africa that need bushmeat for protein and income from rhino horns to survive. Banning all hunting in Botswana is not going to solve these fundamental problems, and scenes like these will continue to happen…


South Africa's rhino wars! Four rhinos killed by poachers in Lalibela Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. Hundreds of rhino are poached each year by organized syndicates and banning hunting would make the situation worse. (Lalibela Game Reserve 2012)
Terese Hart /
This is gruesome reality of the bushmeat trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo... In the past the local people used to target small antelope, pangolins, rodents and other small- to medium-size animals. Now the trappers target bushmeat and hunt in forests until they are cleared of wildlife. How do you stop this? (Terese Hart /


Throughout Africa there is growing discontent with interventions by and management prescriptions from foreign aid workers and NGOs, asking for better regulation of trophy hunting and the illegal trade in bushmeat. Trophy hunting is seen around the world as privilege and a cultural right, resulting in a powerful, well-funded lobby supported and funded by wealthy and influential business and political leaders from around the world. This move by Botswana will no doubt garner a strong reaction from hunters. Trophy hunters are normal people with familial, cultural and socio-economic reasons for hunting. Professional hunters and their clients will simply go elsewhere and, in this day-and-age, that means focussing on the last-remaining unprotected wilderness areas in Africa: southern Tanzania, northern Mozambique, and northern Zambia. North and West Africa have no wildlife to speak of anymore, central Africa is simply not an option, and South Africa has been saturated with game farms to supply local demand for hunting. Again the hunters will be the pioneers that establish roads, start working with local villages, and build the first camps. They will then operate for 10-25 years before the photographic safari operators begin to establish themselves. Hunters have been having the safari experiences we now market in wilderness trails for over 200 years throughout Africa. Sport hunting and then trophy hunting have no doubt played a significant role in the decimation of African wildlife populations. Wars, famine, fire and land conversion have killed more wildlife and represent more of an extinction threat than modern-day trophy hunting. It is just that times are changing and the world is becoming exponentially smaller every year. Most of the hunting areas in Botswana could be classified as wilderness and landowners make no effort to increase wildlife populations. In South Africa, however, the vast majority of hunting happens on private “game farms” that add value to wildlife, trade in the best stock, and manage the farms for maximum productivity. Game farms now protect millions of hectares of land in South Africa and hunting drives these rural economies. This will never be possible in Botswana and the choice for government was an easy both economically and politically. They have decided to commit to the photographic safari industry for now and good luck to them…


These men protect wildlife on the reserve from poachers.
As part of the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, conservationist Anne Kent Taylor, is working with local communities and law enforcement to minimize human-wildlife conflict (most especially lions and the local Masaai). See:


An African Perspective

African leaders like Khama are standing up and taking bold moves to protect national interests. The Ugandan President Museveni said: “Please. Don’t disturb their holiday”, when talking about the UN mission to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Africa is rising to the responsibility of protecting the continent’s natural resources and unique heritage. African Union troops are restoring government in Somalia. Africa is more free, more prosperous, more peaceful, and more educated than ever before. There have also never been more than 1 billion people living on the continent at any one time. The 21st century could be Africa’s century as abundant resources become globally important and African leaders learn how protect their interests when faced by world powers like China and the United States.

There is no doubt that Africa is going to develop rapidly over the next few decades. No other continent or nation has managed to develop without chronic loss of biodiversity and functioning ecosystems. The United States has no bison or passenger pigeons. China has no clean air and many species on the brink of extinction. Wolves disappeared from England in the 1500s. There is very little wildlife left in South Africa outside of protected areas. Let’s hope that, with global support, Africa will be able to emerge in 50 years time as a prosperous, stable and cooperative union of nations with the world’s wildest, most pristine wilderness areas on earth.

Most African tribes have “royal hunting grounds” and recognize the importance of protecting wildlife populations from people capable of exterminating them. Sub-Saharan Africa’s “Great Work” is our vast wildernesses, like the Serengeti, Congo and Okavango, that have persisted since the dawn of time as symbols of the “wild”. For thousands of years, the tsetse fly and mosquito helped keep people and their cattle from settling in these vast wild landscapes, where they had to chose a more nomadic lifestyle moving with livestock and establishing temporary homesteads and villages. African cultures have evolved in close contact with the wilderness and learnt how to co-exist with nature. For the last 50 years, however, aerial spraying, poisons, mosquito nets and medicine have opened up Africa and nothing but war and legislative protection stops people from moving in and civilizing untouched, remote wilderness areas.

The new frontier in Africa is the hard line between the human landscape (cultivated/built-up/no wildlife) and the wilderness. This land conversion has only ever gone one, irreversible direction and over the last 25 years has accelerated to the point that Africa reported deforestation rates twice that of the rest of the world.

Human-wildlife conflict is the latest buzz word in conservation NGOs that work in Africa and conferences are being convened to find ways of “mitigating” this escalating conflict, prescribing the development of alternative livelihoods for communities dependent on bushmeat for protein and disposable income. The fight to save Africa’s wild places is like any guerrilla war, and the other side has more money, more power, and know how to manipulate the system. The front lines of this conflict are the villages and communities pushing to grow and expand into protected areas and wilderness to supply the demands of local and international markets. Africans are realizing that what makes Africa special is the “African bush”, our great protected areas and wildernesses captivate the imagination. I have worked as a safari guide for many years and have always enjoyed seeing well-trained guides from the local community talking about “their birds and animals”. Us Africans are born proud of our wildlife and are starting to see that the “wild” is finite and that there is not much left. Africa needs to be proud and follow in the footsteps of Botswana.


Steve Boyes
Proud male lion on his way to becoming a pride male in the Mombo area. He will need a few more years with his brothers and sisters before he can make an attempt to take over one of the super prides. It is all over for us if the Okavango Delta cannot support lions like this one in his aspirations... (Steve Boyes)
Steve Boyes
African elephants moving across a dry and dusty floodplain in the Mombo area. Breeding herds are very protective of their new borns, preferring to stay on smaller islands where there are less lions and hyenas. (Steve Boyes)


A Personal Perspective

In Botswana, the hunting industry has unfortunately been a law unto itself and demonstrated an inability to self-regulate with several operators becoming notorious for getting away with unethical and illegal behavior in remote wilderness areas. I started work as a camp manager in the Okavango Delta over 10 years ago and remember some African wild dogs as they ran through the bush when we suddenly came upon a crane truck with blood dripping out of the tailgate and an elephant’s foot protruding from the top. They were on their way to the village and we had heard the volley of shots the day before. The hunters to the east of us, used to hang carcasses in the trees to delineate their boundary with new photographic safari camps sharing their concessions. There have just been too many stories like this over the years. There is no doubt that professional hunters were the original pioneers in the Okavango Delta, entering after the first explorers in the late 1890s and establishing themselves in the first hunting camps on remote islands. The 20th century in northern Botswana was their century and Botswana became known as a premier hunting destination for the adventurous elite. Kalahari lions and leopards, as well as the “big tusker” elephants, became famous in hunting circles, attracting stars, politicians, leaders, and the wealthy to this landlocked country. The 21st century has been all about the rise of photographic safaris with this increasingly lucrative industry continues to boom. Private companies like Wilderness Safaris: and Great Plains Safaris: made it their mission to take over one hunting concession after another in a crusade to push hunting out of northern Botswana.


I must say that I am pro-photographic safaris and have grown to detest sport hunting with a passion. It is an anachronistic adrenalin rush that has no place in the stressed wilderness areas of Africa. Illegal poaching and the bushmeat trade are something completely different and cannot be addressed by banning the issuance of hunting licenses. I am not a vegetarian. I have hunted. I did my Masters dissertation on hunting quotas. When I first arrived in the Okavango Delta in 2001, I had just finished my Masters and, if asked, would have told you that hunting makes a valuable contribution to the local economy and, if done properly, could benefit wildlife populations. Within 6 months of learning and discovery in a remote wilderness area in the Okavango Delta, running a small bush camp and doing my PhD fieldwork on the ecology of Meyer’s parrot, I had changed my mind forever. Unveiled for what they are, I realized that all the game parks, game farms, nature reserves, national parks  and sanctuaries I had visited in South Africa were all human constructs that would not exist without fences, waterholes, veterinarians, fire management, culling, hunting, and intensive management. This wilderness in the Okavango Delta was “still alive” and didn’t need us. This made me think and spend evenings staring out in wonder at this living eden. Watch the Film Trailer for We cannot consider hunting in a place like this that self-regulates and maintains a perfect natural balance…


In northern Botswana, in the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe and Linyanti, most lodges and camps charge $600-1,500 per person per night and are busy most of the time, thus out-earning hunting concessions and giving back far more to local communities. Some photographic operators have gone so far as to provide nearby villages with beef to supplement the meat that would have come from trophy hunting and local subsistence hunting. Now, this is not possible everywhere in Botswana and many wilderness areas are too sparsely populated by wildlife to be viable as photographic safari destinations. In addition, the game farms near Ghanzi in the south-west of Botswana have been actively farming wildlife for hunting like South Africa. An absolute ban is possible in Botswana because the photographic safari industry is so powerful now, but many stakeholders are going to be left with investments they cannot repay as photographic safari operators. Northern Botswana faces very different issues to the south of the country, and a ban on hunting may be ill-advised down south.

The basic fact of the matter is that an animal in the bush has no monetary value. A hunting license instantly gives that same animal a monetary value. In Botswana, the photographic safari industry has been able to add more monetary value for the last 10-15 years. I hope this trend continues and we decide one day to put our guns down and pay the same money to take awesome photographs. Until then we need to be practical and use hunting as a conservation tool where applicable

Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.
  • Jason

    What a totally one-sided, simplistic, shock-value-based write up of hunting from a photographer, not an actual wilflife biologist. The writer is just another hypocrite hunting-basher. Were it not for hunters through the centuries, he wouldn’t even be alive today. He probably cries for everyone to go vegan. And cries about the loss of habitat. Yet, to go vegan means you need more agricultural farm land… which… uh-oh… means you need to clear more land (read: animal habitats) to plant enough crops to sustain humanity. And for all those “over-population” doomsayers, I don’t see any of you volunteering to commit self-sacrifice to limit the earth’s population growth. All you hippie-crites are the same. You want everyone else to sacrifice for your ideals, but you think you are exempt. None of you seem to realize that the house or apartment you live in was built on a former piece of land that was home to multiple animal species… yet we don’t see any of you willing to level your homes and live in a cave to give those poor animals their habitats back. No, you want everyone else to do that for you while you continue to live exactly as you want. As for the hunting vilification, every single independent study done on the impact of sanctioned and managed hunting has shown the ecological benefits that hunting provides. Only the one-sided attack pieces written by the bleeding hearts that would save a baby rhino before they would a human baby ever produce results to the contrary about hunting. And the attempt to lump all legitimate and legal hunters in with poachers just shows the desperation the writer has in trying to make a point that has no merit. If Botswana’s animal population is that desperate, it has more to do with the lack of government oversight on their ecosystem and their failure to prevent poaching, brush fires and over-hunting through lack of regulation than it will ever have to do with the “evil” sportsmen that you so detest. All those license fees they pay provide a lot more money to ensure the future survival of the species they hunt and the habitat they live on than that dog-and-cat-euthanizing-factory known as PETA.

    But by all means, continue with your radical point of view, because nothing I say will ever change your mind. Your mind is made up, just like all the hippie-crites out there.

  • Dr Mitchel W Eisenstein

    There is no need and reason for killing big game in africa. Maybe some antelope or deer. maybe even some wildebeast. but elephants, giraffe, lion, hyena, rhino, hippo? the hunters of big game should be put in a pen with their prey, armed with a knife. lets see how bigg you are now, hunter man.

  • Larry P

    Its obvious you did not read the article. You are an angry and pathetic man.
    The author clearly states he is NOT A VEGETARIAN.
    He also clearly states he IS A HUNTER.
    He has a Masters degree in hunting quotas.
    What he said is “sport hunting has no place in the stressed wilderness areas of Africa”.
    Jeez buddy.

  • Jason

    What the bleeding hearts don’t want revealed, and just like every other fact that is presented to them, they will call it a lie and attempt to shout it down:

  • Veronica Egan

    How refreshing that a whole country has (or soon will, hopefully) come to the conclusion that these truly wild animals deserve to live as much as any human. We are consuming enough of the planet’s resources with our agricultural endeavors and fishing that there is no need to kill these dwindling species either for food or for so-called sport.

  • Tina

    Jason-calm down, there are plenty of other places to kill animals.

  • Eric Paul

    You’re right Jason…nothing you say WILL ever change his mind. In fact, your caveman ideologies won’t change ANYBODY’S mind. I’d bet even the average 8 year-old knows better than you!

  • Annamarie

    Jason, Most crops in this country are grown TO FEED TO ANIMALS. We could easily grow enough crops to feed humans if we dumped animal agriculture. Therefore, you would NOT need to clear more land to “go vegan”. Oh — and most of we “hippie-crites” would save the rhino AND the baby. It pretty much never comes down to having to sacrifice one to save the other, and wanting to stop animal suffering does NOT require not caring about humans, FYI. I’d do a lot of research, were I you, about how populations are artificially manipulated to sell hunting licenses. It has nothing to do with “ecological benefits”, and has everything to do with money. But you are right about one thing — this hippie-crite’s mind IS made up on the cruel and unnecessary nature of sport hunting. Way to go, Botswana!! You’re officially on my “places to visit and spend money” list!

  • keith

    Wow Jason from the land of the trophy hunting fraternity has really spat the dummy!
    All the usual NRA statements trotted out and. The usual belittling of those with other points of view..
    Hunting including the digusting canned hunting have brought wildlife in Africa to a perilous state including disrupting the gene pool and dominant hierarchy in breeding groups.
    Your idea that hunters ‘shot’ countries into civilisation and made the land what it is now is ludicrous.
    Photography is now becoming a more money producing alternative than someone who wants to kill a creature for fun.
    And no you are not feeding ‘poor starving Africans by destroying their biggest asset.. BRAVO BOTSWANA!
    I will be back..

  • Keith

    “But by all means, continue with your radical point of view, because nothing I say will ever change your mind. Your mind is made up, just like all the hippie-crites out there.”
    Jason, you just shot yourself in the foot son, what you have written sums you up just as completely – by the way have you actually ever been to Africa? you are simply a hypocrite par exellence..

  • Laura

    FYI Jason.. Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa….nothing wrong with their government! Since independence, Botswana has had one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world. Botswana has transformed itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country. Botswana is really the only country in Africa that actually works! I lived in Botswana from 1990-1995…magnificent, well managed country! Hunters are just looking for excuses to support their sick obsession with killing animals. GO Botswana…

  • Sean Presher-hughes

    I can’t tell you what good news this is to my Ears!!!!
    At last there is someone out there with real brains who thinks about the future and not only about Now!
    South African Politicians take heed and join Botswana, lets see whether you have the guts!?
    As for you so-called trophy-hunters……. Go and get a real job as well as the game farms who make a quick buck out of this!
    Try and get it into your brains and think about the future and stop being so selfish for the future generations! I too would rather pay to shoot with my camera, there is still a business out there and with proper management you can make more money through international/local photography Visitors! Change your mindset before it is too Late! Once a specIs is extinct it cannot be brought back, how would you game farmers allowing hunting be able to make money then Anyway!?….. Food for Thought!

  • Gordon

    Interesting comments from both sides of the “conflict”.
    There are many people in Botswana who have made themselves “experts” of the wildlife because they lived in the bush fo a while and took wonderful pictures. They get onto a stage and have the ear of the world and become even more knowledgeable.
    Then there are the realistic ones who know the situation on the ground and the positive side of safari hunting (whether you like it or not) and know that without the presence of hunting operations in the remote areas, the poaching will escalate. It is happening as we speak. It will not be stopped as there are too many people (both hungry and greedy) out there and that number is going to increase. The authorities are not going to be able to stop it – maybe slow it down a bit, but not stop it. Too big an area to operate, and on some parts a lack of enthusiasm. It is known that when the hunting operations in a concession cease, the poaching operations increas.
    So I say to those sitiing in other parts of the world who applaud the decision to ban all hunting, you do not know anything about the real situation on the ground, so don’t make sanctimonious comments and slate hunters. If you don’t like hunting that is your prerogative, but it is a known fact that hunters have done more financially and physically world wide to preserve and protect wild life than all the animal rights and such like organisations together.
    Botswana has had a good record of preserving its wildlife, and has hunting for more than 60 years. There have been ups and downs, but overall it has been good. The serious decline in certain species has very little to do with hunting, and more with the natural movement of wildlife being disrupted through fences and human habitation and natural occurrences (drought etc).
    But as usual the hunters get the blame.
    Just a thought, professional hunters are generally ordinary people who enjoy being in the bush and are trying to make a living. They are not cold blooded killers, as some would like to portray them as.
    Dr Eisenstein’s comment that no big game should be killed in Africa, only some deer and wildebeasts. What is the difference between a deer and a buffalo or elephant. It is still a living animal whose life is being taken away.

  • Stephen

    If anyone cared to check more carefully, the good Dr. Chase’s survey was a total scam. It was based on his own prejudice and set out to stop the hunting industry no matter what his findings. People here in Botswana wondered where in the country he had conducted his survey, since it certainly was not in the Okavango where the game is still plentiful. The statistics he gave have kept being repeated by the environmentalists without being verified by a second source. Of course, that is always the case. If it fits your agenda just keep repeating it! The lie will eventually be believed. Who cares about ethics when a warthog’s life is at stake!

  • Thomas Madsen

    Having lived in the African bush for many years and working with wildlife but now residing in Australia I must admit that the common western view that wildlife will survive if hunting is banned, is simply wrong.

    We that are lucky enough to live in countries with plenty of food and often money have no idea what its like for Africans living in the bush and relying on meagre crops to raise large families. The poverty that still exists in most of Africa is simply appalling and unfortunately often due to corrupt politicians. When living in Kenya the latter was often called the wabenzi tribe. When I first heard this I asked my African friends “what’s the wabenzi tribe?”. The answer was those that drive Mercedes Benzes! (and they are common!)

    What would you do if your family was close to starving to death but could, at least in the short term, be saved if you poached a rhino, and at least got perhaps 1% of the “real” value of a rhino horn (a huge sum for any poor African).

    When living in Zambia I saw first hand how hunting revenues ended up in corrupt politicians pocket and not a cent was given to the local people. I am convinced that the only way to reduce poaching in poor countries is that the local people will be able to make money out of the wildlife residing in the area where they live via hunters paying for the right to shoot some of the big game. In order for this to work, however, is in most countries unfortunately not possible to even contemplate until the rampant corruption has been wiped out. Looking at the politics in many African countries this is unfortunately not likely to happen within the coming decades!

  • heywood jablomey

    I’ve lived in the bush for many years. lemme say theres some tastey meat there. an you dont have to kill it to eat it.

  • Marcus

    This is a long and complicated debate and the arguments from both sides have some measure of validity.

    I have worked in SA on private game reserve doing wildlife surveys, travelled East Africa as far west as the Virungas, and I studied safaris tourism to Southern Africa and the consumptive use issue for my Masters 15 years ago. Just so you know what I have to sat is not based on BS.

    NGOs are fully aware of the hunting issue and whilst some are completely anti hunting, those that are involved in the design and management of protected areas know that local people are the key to long term conservation. Consequently so called Game Management Areas (GMAs) where hunting is allowed and revenue goes to locals have been a mainstay conservation tool for years. Just Google WWF response to their former patron, the King of Spain’s, elephant hunting holiday.

    Hunting is a great revenue earner, but despite Jason’s emotive and heartfelt defense, the evidence pro hunting is not that good. Not because the principal of allowing trophy hunting is bad (it may be offensive) but because it is near impossible to regulate and it has a very negative effect on the animals which it targets. Tanzania has seen very bad effects on lion populations as the Govt are unable to adequately control the numbers and specifics of the lion taken annually.

    Hunting reserves make up 2/3rds of protected habitat in Tanzania alone. A total hunting ban could result in the loss of 500,000 sq Km of protected habitat across Africa.

    Replacing the revenue from hunting for Governments and local communities would actually be pretty easy. Tanzania received only a couple of million dollars for lion licenses.

    I detest hunting but as people have recognized for the time being we are stuck with it. It protects huge swathes of land in Africa, without which wildlife populations would plummet.

    Unfortunately, we ask too much if the poorest people on earth when we are unable to do the same. We are arch hypocrites. Check the destruction of wolves in the US this season alone. Hundreds of wolves shot, and many in the US who would exterminate them. The US are not prepared to grant them proper protection for fear of upsetting the NRA. We do need to get our own houses in order, and prove that we educated wealthy western hippies are capable of living with and encouraging wildlife in our own backyards.

    If we genuinely want to get people to give up hunting in Africa we will need to pay. It is not fair to ask them to give up the benefits without providing an alternative. Unfortunately, there are not enough tourists to go round just yet.

    For the record I am saddened that I am writing what might appear pro hunting piece, but I fear the cost of a ban. Botswana has become a very prosperous country through their investment in their diamond production, and has a successful and growing Argo economy, so are perhaps better able to cope with the ban. They are also sparsely populated so pressures maybe different and I wish them well.

    If hunting is banned the land that is currently set aside for hunting concessions will cease to be economically viable, and will be converted to agriculture where no wildlife at all will remain, and human wildlife conflicts will become ever more dangerous.

    If there is a better answer I would love to hear it. I wish for nothing more than for my children to share the experiences I have had, and I fear we may destroy everything before we realize what we have lost.

  • Joe Morgan

    To the clever American Jason… This is your words…

    “Were it not for hunters through the centuries, he wouldn’t even be alive today.”

    You are aware that there are (in one country alone) more than 100 million MORE people than the total population of the US, that have lived without hunting and eating meat for thousands of years… yeah that’s right, 450 million vegetarians… So your argument is crap…

    “He probably cries for everyone to go vegan. And cries about the loss of habitat. Yet, to go vegan means you need more agricultural farm land… which… uh-oh… means you need to clear more land (read: animal habitats) to plant enough crops to sustain humanity.”

    Again – fail… In case you didn’t know – the US alone could solve world hunger EVERY year, if they fed the crops they feed livestock to the hungry human beings instead… over 60% of all the crops you grow goes to feed livestock… So in essence, what tear down forests and animal habitat is fields for growing crops to feed livestock… I can tell you, if you feed an animal 1 kg of corn, it don’t turn into 1 kilo of beef… All the corn that are fed for example a cow to produce 1 kilo of beef – you could feed 40 people…

    Everyday is a school day – even in Texas…

  • Wayne Bisset

    Firstly I am not a “Bunny Hugger” and do not condemn hunting unilaterally. After all the biggest National Park in my country was founded by hunters not consevationist. That said, in light of the rhino crisis at present I would love a ban on all hunting here immediately. Case in point is the recent fiasco with Thai prostitutes getting licences and our “professional” hunters doing the killing for them??? Rhino horn is such big business that coruption, which is a national past time already, is rife.

  • Trevor barrett

    Well done for the “NO Hunting in Botswana” now tell the Chinese and Vietnamese to leave on the next plane, they will destroy African Wildlife for their own greed

  • Trevor barrett

    We have or some of us have grown up and we don’t need to hunt anymore, too little left thanks to the gun. If we were still like the bushmen and had a balanced lifestyle like they do in some cases we should continue to hunt. To many people and not enough wilderness and wildlife, it all once surrounded us now we surround the little left.

  • Richard Natoli-Rombach

    To see a picture of a Bonobo head was heart breaking. Having studied mountain gorillas with Dian Fossey in 1974 I am well aware of the effects of poaching and hunting. This should be the “law of the land” for all African countries. The government of Rwanda eventually learned what an asset the mountain gorillas are and how they contribute to ecotourism. Though mountain gorillas are still being killed and fall victim to poacher’s traps their numbers have increased to almost three times the numbers collected from census work from almost four decades ago.

  • vikki

    Botswana WILL ” blossom with a booming ecotourism industry”!! The world has more photographers than hunters , luckily!!! Plus the world view is shifting to looking for ways to be more constructive than destructive. Things are looking up for the right to life for ALL. Thank you Botswana. The world is applauding you, and the tourists will come!
    By the way Jason, the writer IS a wildlife biologist, and not just a photographer.

  • End wildlife trade

    Africa is finally standing up to protect its natural and historical heritage. Look at the rest of the world, where is the wildlife? African must realise the value of their biodiversity and the precious thing it is to still have it. Trading weapons for cameras will mean less income for only a few, well to do rangers and their green shouldnt mean the end of the worlds natural legacy. What on earth makes someone pay a fortune to kill a mayestic animal for “pleasure” pretending to support local economy? Why not contribute directly with a check? To have a stuffed, dead animal as a status symbol in a livingroom? if we dont mind our natural legacy, we will die of sadness. Wildlife to African is worth much more alive than dead. Westeners might have a flatscreen or an ibook but what value is that of compared to a mayestic generation of elephants, tigers, lion, giraffs, rhinos who the world will flock to see and take pictures of? In fact, all we have as westeners is the flatscreen to see these beautiful animals, dreaming of on day going to frica to witness them for ourselfes. Id Africa could open up markets for camera safaris of all budgets, the revenues are guaranteed and not only the wildlife but also the habitat stands a chance of protection. I find it utterly distasteful of so called civilized business men and industrials to stlll, in 2012, endorse the killing of wildlife for “sport” or “entertainement”, quite frankly you digust me as do your wifes all covered in fur. What do you think gives you the right to exterminate our natural heritage for vanity? You are not only displaying ignorance and arrogance but you are crushing the african identity and history. Pro-hunting arguments above are exclusively done by white middle-aged men with personal interest in such slaughter or the industries that derive from it such as weapons and amunition. Most hunting lodges are infact sponsored by armsdealers (american and russian) , insurance companies, petfood and a few car manufacturers. While many other values born under this old continent mentality might have historical excuses to prevail, hunting has no more place in time under todays circumstances. Those who blindly adhere to such pastimes blatantly display vulgar ignorance and unsustainable greed. Their options are to finance santuaries or photo safaris upon which local comunities can make a living whilst safeguarding global biodiversity and national identity. I commend the African leaders who have finally come to this conclusion and who turn down short term western profits in favour of longterm global profits, defending the lands in which they were born, the interest of their people and the mayestic wildlife they inherited. It warms my heart and gives me faith to see them realizing that a pair of designer sunglasses or a flashy car a hunting licence or a poaching deal can buy is worth nothing compared to a gracing elephant and its cub, a heard of zebras in the morning light, the prehistoric siluette of a rhino, the look of a gorilla protective of his family or the sound of a roaring tiger and that these are the true, invaluable and unique assets of Africa today. Foreigners should be so lucky to be able to visit Africa and witness them, not think their filthy money can find its way around laws and decency, corrupting even the purests of hearts with a bundle of blodstained dollars. Africans are realizing that it is up to them to decide which attitudes and businessdeals are worthy to be welcomed into their very select clubs. Their natural ressources (wildlife, wood, minerals etc) will come under increased pressure as diminishing ressources of other nations run out or are preserved or defended for national use or exported for income. I feel the international interactions that have already taken place in Africa, despite damage, pollution, human right breaches, and wildlife slaughter, will nevertheless be just what africa needs to fully see the scale of the value of their own resources on the international market today and that they will show the world that they have learnt not to sell themselves short or that they would do so for vulgar western status displays. i also feel that those “leaders” who still fall under the spell of short term profit regardless of their countries demise are soon to be substituted by worthy men and women as heads of state. You are no indigenous people settling for glassbeads, you are kings and queens of the cradle of humanity and one of the last paradises on earth. By taking the money of hunters, you are shooting at your spiritual and natural history. Do whats right with your time in power.

  • Naeem

    i am so happy for the ban on ALL hunting in Botswana; thank you President Khama. unlike our president who has not intervened in any way to protect the almost extinct Rhinos in SA.
    Hunting is barbaric; they are GODS creation and require respect and protection.

  • jeff

    I must say I have to agree with Gordon about all the people who have made themselves “experts” of African wildlife and get on the proverbial stage and have the ear of the world and become somehow, miraculously, even more knowledgeable. It is all the more sad that some of these people can influence policy. One of these experts proclaimed recently about stopping the slaughter of the big cats here in Botswana, due to the hunting ban. What this “expert” and most of the world don’t know or don’t want to know is the number of these and other predators that are wiped out every year here do to the very catchy phrase: Human-Animal Conflict. In Botswana quite a few lions and leopards are killed (note I did not say hunted) in the name of property/stock protection. Just attend any wildlife auction sale and you will see dozens of rotted/moth eaten skins of these big cats, way more than were ever on any hunting quota. Where have the so called/self proclaimed “experts” stopped the slaughter? As has been stated in other mails it is difficult to look at this problem logically when so many people will not listen to both sides. It is very sad that the whole hunting vs photographic issue is based on passion and not on logic. We will see what happens in Botswana. Those of us that actually live here are very interested to see the outcome.

  • Steve

    Then hunting ban is really working in the rest of Africa!

    Poachers do not ask for licenses.

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  • Mike the concerned African

    Experience in the game industry and some of the comments below have provided me with some arguments from both sides of the conflict.One is that private game farms protect large areas of natural land and are of an immense use in the protection of wildlife. From personal experience from my work on game farms I have seen the healthiest most well kept animals at stable populations with very good genetic diversity. I must however point out that this is not true for every farm I’ve been to.This is a vey good point from the hunting industry in saying that the game farms keep many areas naturally intact and that sustainable hunting provides a good source of income to the local community.Another argument is that over hunting has led to the over use and near extension of many species this is true in some cases where uncontrolled hunting by unconcerned individuals has caused massive damage. But there are also cases where hunters have bought species back from the brink of extinction. The way our minds work may be difficult to understand for many people but most of us do not go to a farm and shoot everything on site. For example I am what they call a meat hunter all of the meat that is consumed in my house was hunted by me. This also allows me to know what is exactly in my meat and in light of the resent meat scandals around the world I am happy that I do hunt my own meat.

  • Jim C.

    Jason, you are telling massive lies about the land needed for veganism. Do you understand how much corn, for example, is used to feed livestock? Reducing the amount of meat eaten would free up many acres for direct vegetarian consumption. The higher on the food chain you eat, the MORE land it takes! You have it exactly backwards.

    I’m not vegan but I minimize my red meat consumption for that very reason.

    Also, the killing of animals for sport is disrespectful to nature, no matter how many cover stories you lump onto it. The species with the real overpopulation problem is far and away Man. Human destruction of wildlife habitat continues unabated, and other species are only “overpopulated” because humans have upset the original balance and corralled them into shrinking pockets of land.

  • Lori Denham

    Hunters do not hunt to conserve. They conserve to hunt. Big difference! The game ranchers are fighting for their livelihood, not to protect the wildlife. If they switched to photo tourism, and put the same amount of effort into their business, they could do just as well. But, they are too steeped in family tradition, or into the greed for the money.

  • Bianca

    Dr. Mitchel
    You are right on!!

  • Buck Knives Forever

    With all due respect to those good hippies out there, this anti-hunting, animal rights vegan extremism is nonsense and I have to agree with the responsible hunters, both those who do it for livelihood and yes, even some trophies, and those who do it to make ends meet and have meat on the table. The above post by Jason and those who have lived there in the bush.

    Basically, the entire vegan mentality and animal rights and anti hunting concept is a true conspiracy originally, created by people who want a one world government and political religious system, and who want to mass murder huge numbers of the human race. Many others get into the game and think more government bans are the answer.

    These are the same freakish people who believe banning knives and guns is going to stop violent behavior (Already in the UK they have done this, and elsewhere) and who think nanny states know best.

    Unfortunately I think this will continue.

    I believe in responsible stewardship of nature. I believe in animal welfare. Animal rights and making humans and animals equals is ridiculous.

    By the way, here is a question to all of those reading this who want to ban hunting and who are vegan and animal rights activists:

    1 if you are an evolutionist and believe man is just an evolved animal, why be so anti hunting? Humans are then animals like other animals and because humans are smarter and more capable than the others they have out evolved the lions tigers bears and the rest, and have the “right” to do as they please to and with these animals, just as a gorilla can do to a rabbit.

    If this is true why would you be against hunting and meat eating?

    2 If there is no God and no ultimate standard of right and wrong, which is the logical end result if there is no God, why does any of this matter? You and all animals are going to live and die and go out of existence if atheism is true, so what is the big deal? Eat, drink, hunt, be merry for tomorrow we die, right? Now. I am not putting down atheists. There are many wonderful decent atheists and I commend them for their compassion and care. All I am saying is that the logical idea is this: If man is an evolved animal and has no special spiritual side, then what does it matter if you hunt and eat animals? How is it any different?

    Again, I believe in responsible stewardship. Hunt and process animals for food and other uses as long as one does not completely wipe out the population, and also use compassionate and humane methods of slaughter for food and other uses. Don’t abuse animals. I am opposed to those who kill rhinos and elephants for the ivory and let the rest of the animal rot, and I think the Arabs and Chinese who go after rhino horn are evil idiots.

    I also advocate biotechnological engineering to be able to synthesize ivory and all biological materials without the need to kill animals. Eventually matter replicators will allow anyone to produce unlimited supplies of any biological or non-biological material they want, whether it is steel, ivory, diamond, fullerene, or any material they want.

    I love vegans and hippies and hunters and others.

    Has anyone here heard of a man named Peter Capstick? A great hunter and author.

  • Jennifer

    Thanks Steve for your Journal entry. And thanks, all y’all for your interesting perspectives. I’m no expert, just a human being passionate about the exploration of ecology, psychology, politics, critical thinking, checks and balances, informed debate, education and wisdom. This is a topic as complicated as the socio-economic landscapes in each of which it has a foot planted. I wouldn’t wish to add much without some serious research, but I would like to point to this website as a great example of a win-win situation to help wild animals and the farmers living alongside them:

    Click on “Learn” and then look at “Learn about our programs.”

    I think these guys offer a great template that could inform the kinds of methods we use for conservation and economics in other parts of the world facing similar issues.

  • Joss

    Am about to go to Botswana for holiday so all comments/observations regarding hunting/photography more than thought provoking. May I therefore be allowed to make hopefully balanced comment when I return?

  • Joe O.

    I understand the concern and efforts being currently employed in the Delta region areas. When reading the reported numbers of game species decline, it leaves little time to assess and employ recovery options.

    If the safari photographic industries can make up the difference in revenues for the region, and using hunting measures to cull and control game species herds. It would seem, at this point in time, the only logical path of recourse.

    Time will only tell.

  • A.E.London

    Yes, we are evolved omnivores, incapable of reigning in our reproduction, our abuse of resources, our greed. Lions eat meat, as do many people, and the solutions to land abuse and famine will come from science. However, the need to kill animals for sport, not hunger, will only be changed when people see the other animals of this planet as sentient, emotional beings.
    What sport is it to explode the heart of another hunter, to destroy a mother like the one you have at home, to see the panic and pain through a gun’s sights that you have wrought?
    And then, in a paradox I will never understand, stretch the skin of that innocent across a fiberglass form to make it look alive, pop a couple of realistic glass eyes in, pose the inanimate to look as alive as one can make it because it is beautiful that way- and then pose it in your first world living room with all the other souvenirs? So Jeffery Daumer, so serial killer like, to keep souvenirs like that.
    There is no sport in needless killing. But there is a serious lack of empathy necessary to put your booted foot on the neck of your next victim. Like the people in Asia who take rhino horn , sport hunting of non-consumed animals fuels your libido-

  • Tsi’ gamo

    1. How and why was hunting ban introduced?
    Initially when the government introduced the hunting ban it was said that hunting shadows poaching and when the hunting companies put their arguments forward, that poaching happens in reserves and photographic concessions on which it is the responsibility of the government to police. The president then took a u-turn and called “elephant researcher” who concluded that the number of Botswana wildlife is declining! His methodology was questioned by other researcher and wildlife biologist in Botswana..On my personal perspective the elephant researcher understand
    and know the damages done by elephants to vegetation and he does not want to ‘badmouth’ his study subjects..and on top of that the Department of Wildlife has not done any surveys on wildlife stocks as
    it is usually the case to decide on the quota to award for hunting. So the logic and reasons to stop hunting was to meet one person passion, “owners of the photographic loges” in the Delta which don’t even put money back to conservation here in Botswana.Hunting ban was based on person passion not on scientific research..Why?all their headquarters are located outside Botswana and their expensive bookings are not done in Botswana and that means huge amounts of money stay there.When it comes to leases paid to the communities only a mere million is paid to the communities whereas the companies makes millions monthly on guests accommodations…imagine one person paying 2000-3000 USD a night to stay in a lodge!!
    So hunting ban was made to benefit only owners of big lodges in Botswana at the expense of the community living with these wildlife!!
    2.Where do game meat served in lodges comes from??
    VEGAN issue aside…I am disappointed the very people who were pushing for hunting ban are the ones serving impalas, springbok, kudus and eland on their dinners in their lodges.?
    Decline of wildlife only happens when it is done to benefit local communities but when it benefits big photographic lodge owners there is no decline. Where do they get the meat to impress that guests with.HYPOCRITES!!!
    3.Not all areas where hunting was done are conducive for photographic safari.Take one photographic company and tell them to go and establish a lodge at Phuduhudu area and see what they will do!!
    4. Aftermath of hunting ban!
    Human people have been killed by marauding elephants that terrorize their homes and ploughing fields because elephant populations is “declining as per the elephant researcher” or “increasing as per other biologists and local communities”??Elephant researcher is silent on this!!
    Local communities are crying foul that their monetary and other related benefits have declined ever since hunting ban and who is benefiting more..lodge owners
    More incidents of poaching across Botswana especially the Delta and Chobe..Literature has shown that wildlife has dramatically decreased ever since introduction of hunting ban in Kenya.I am scared that the number of poisoned and killed animals mainly elephants is increasing in Botswana.Why? the sense of ownership which was shown by communities over the years has been abolished by introduction of hunting ban and now the community see wildlife as liability not as asset.I wish “elephant researcher”can make a research on damages done by elephants to human and other wildlife.
    4.No political will
    When the communities in the areas where hunting used to be done put their requests forward to meet with the concerned minister to express their views he never show up to these meetings and/or workshops!!
    I conclude by saying hunting ban in Botswana was ‘just’ introduced without any further logic, research and analysis of its pros and cons to both conservation, ecological and socio-economical implications.There is more to hunting, photographic and conservation than as we currently view it here in Botswana!

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