NWU expert says Botswana’s ban on hunting can impact South Africa
Botswana's controversial decision not to issue hunting licences as from next year can be a push for the South African economy, but - on the other hand - it can also place the country's wildlife in the sight of poachers from this neighbouring state.
“President Ian Khama said the decision not to issue hunting licences was taken to protect Botswana's fauna, because hunting licences encourage poaching. However, the problem is that it is going to have a reversed effect,” says Prof Melville Saayman of the North-West University's (NWU) Potchefstroom Campus.
“Kenya followed the same path. They also banned hunting and currently have a huge game poaching problem, so much so that some of their species face total extinction. The strategy proposed by Botswana is short-sighted and is not going to work. Game numbers will decline and this will have a serious impact on the hunting and game farm industry in the country.
"Case studies from South Africa have shown that as soon as the hunting of a species is allowed, it leads to the breeding as well as conservation of the particular species. Botswana's policy is definitely going to lead to job losses, since it affects professional hunters and other related professions."
According to Prof Saayman it may, in the short term, benefit South Africa and Namibia, since professional hunters will have to find their means of livelihood elsewhere. However, the long-term picture does not look as rosy.
"As the wildlife in Botswana declines, poachers will also look for another means of livelihood, and they can find it in South Africa. This can place immense pressure on our game industry. Game poachers from Zimbabwe and Mozambique are a big headache. Add poachers from Botswana and it might become a nightmare."
At a hunting indaba recently held at Sun City, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, said that the government commits itself to the growth and expansion of South Africa's hunting industry.
"This is a very positive step, especially seen in the light that the value of this industry is approximately R6 billion per annum and that it still has a lot of growth potential," says Prof Saayman.