madaboutcheetah

Botswana to ban all hunting ...... FINAL ANSWER?

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Posted (edited)

What photo tourist will want to go into thick bush where Elephants have been hunted? Do you want to be charged up and the down the center of the mopane veldt??? Certainly not me!!! After maybe another 10 years when the wildlife settles down, will be nice........

Edited by madaboutcheetah

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What photo tourist will want to go into thick bush where Elephants have been hunted? Do you want to be charged up and the down the center of the mopane veldt??? Certainly not me!!! After maybe another 10 years when the wildlife settles down, will be nice........

 

No this is not the case,Jochen was with me on my last trip and we saw 100"s elephants and not one showed any form of aggression at all.

 

In fact Jochen got to 3 or 4 meters from a big bull that walked right up to him with no sign of fear or aggression,this area has not been hunted for some years I believe ,cannot see any sign of this and the elephants are the first to show changes.

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Posted (edited)

Don't exaggerate, André. It was 5 meters. :D

 

Indeed the place looked great.

 

What Graeme says is not entirely true.

- Plenty of relaxed elephants (and we're talking big bulls here)

- plenty of other species and easy to see (kudu, impala, giraffe etc ...we even saw a sable). We saw no cats, but we were only there for one day, and we did hear them at night.

- Nogaatsa was dry at the end of the dy season, but other waterholes had water (where pumps were in operation). In comparison; the place - at least at the end of dry season - looks very similar to the waterholes in Savuti before the channel was flowing again. And according to the farmers from Pandamatenga getting water is no issue. Well, it's deep underground, but 80% of all attempts result in water, if I remember correctly.

- Not too bushy at all. Certainly less bushy than Kruger private reserves. OK, there's big mopane patches but this is elephant country after all.

 

The place must look absolutely magnificent in the 4-5 months after rainy season, when all animals flock back from Kazuma. I'll know soon enough, as I'm going back there.

 

Note that there's a huge grassy plain on CG5 as well. That's Cheetah country right there, Hari. But I guess no one ever looked at it.

 

I think Graeme is exaggerating. For a reason, of course.

 

Ciao,

 

J.

Edited by Jochen
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Will enough photo tourists do so though in the meantime bringing local communities the same revenue as from hunting? If they aren't guaranteed that income, will they not revert to other means?

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Posted (edited)

GW ,people have a misconception about bringing revenue to a specific community,I know this first hand ,as when we hunted in Zim in the past ,we bought licences from the game dept for the game to be hunted,now does this money really go to the local community,this case Matuodona area or do they use it for other purposes?

 

I know the fees paid to me by my clients did not,except I did employ one or two locals to help out while I was in that area,and the same will apply in Botswana,all licence fees go to the government whether for hunting or photographic,except if this tract of land you are useing is tribal land,such as the Khwai community trust land,here there is a spin off for hunting and photografic.But not all areas are tribal trusts ,such as ours,is not,this area belongs to us for 55years on a lease from the Chobe Land Board .we pay an annual fee to the CHB direct what they do with this money is anybodies guess ,although it is trust land,but it is not contested,like Khwai were they live on the trust land its self,our land has nobody living anywhere near there.for at least 70km.

 

Tribal land such as Khwai,is not always a safe way to invest into a camp,reason is the trust elders always are present to see if you run the camp in a correct and proper manor,which is a good thing,but this also leads to the elders to take over your camp once they see things are going well ,this has happened before , more than once.

I know of three camps to have suffered this fate,two have been sorted out ,but the third camp is still closed .This should not be allowed to happen,1000's $$ are spent developing a camp and then you still are not sure if tomorrow you are still the boss.

 

So whatever people may think about money being filtered back to the locals, is not always the case.

Yes we would employ local staff once we get up and running,this most or all operators do.

Edited by A&M

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The ban is all well and good, though according to people I spoke with today, there is a lot of Ivory poaching already along the buffalo fence and in areas where the hunters have vacated.

 

Hardly a positive result.....

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Russell the BDF are taking care of those culprits,shot a few 2 weeks ago along the buffalo fence.

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http://www.tourismupdate.co.za/article/124624/Wilderness-Safaris-new-camp-set-to-open-in-Botswana?utm_source=Now Media Newsletters&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=TU Daily Mail&utm_term=http:%2F%2Fwww.tourismupdate.co.za%2F%2Farticle%2F124624%2FWilderness-Safaris-new-camp-set-to-open-in-Botswana

 

Very interesting news - since Calitz Safaris used to be one of the most prolific ele hunting outfitters in Botswana.

 

This news is welcome & 4-5 years after the fact, it would be great to get a list of all the former hunting concessions that have now moved over to photo concessions. 

 

There have been lots of new camps opened this past year, I suspect most of them in ex-hunting concessions. 

 

Those of you with more knowledge, please update us on the latest status of these ex-hunting concessions.

 

 

 

 

 

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And I hardly think that SA, Zim and Namibia can claim better (fewer) poaching events than Bots over this same period.

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It's probably taken that long because approvals and plans take forever to go through the extensive procedural aspects .........

 

Think about regular tourist visas for Botswana and their procedural aspects (Gulp) ....... 

 

 

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I continue to be ecstatic over Botswana's hunting ban. Please keep in mind that according to the latest estimate Botswana now has over 130,000 elephants.The current government believes in opening corridors so that they can go to neighboring countries.

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Enjoy your ecstasy.  It is not universally shared and there is reasonably good evidence from some conservationists on the ground (and I'm not referring exclusively to trophy hunters) that the hunting ban is already having the effect of increasing levels of poaching.  That having been said, one might argue that a population of 130000 is excessive from the viewpoint of habitat sustainability and that poachers are providing a service that wildlife managers are precluded from undertaking by protectionists such as yourself.

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Posted (edited)

I don’t want to get into a whole debate about elephants but I don’t really see how they are relevant to the hunting ban, trophy hunting was not controlling the population in any way, a point that @Bugs made earlier.

 

As to the hunting ban generally whether you think it has been successful and a good thing or the opposite seems to depend on your opinion of hunting, lots of people who oppose hunting have hailed this as a great success and a step in the right direction, because it appears to me that’s what they want to believe.  Having spoken to guides in Botswana who took a rather different view and suggested that a lot of former hunting areas have not been taken over by photographic operators as was supposed to happen and that the promised employment has not materialised. It may be that this has simply taken rather longer than expected and that lots of new camps have opened in former hunting areas I don’t know. But I am somewhat sceptical and I’ve no doubt that there are a good few areas that simply aren’t well suited to photographic tourism at all, with so many fantastic prime game viewing areas in Botswana, why would people want to visit areas that are not good for photo tourism.? Why would anyone even want to try and set up tourist camps in these areas when they have no realistic chance of success?

 

I’m yet to be convinced that the hunting ban was a good thing, at the moment I’m more inclined to believe that it hasn’t been, both from speaking to people in Botswana and from reading various articles on the subject of the hunting ban.

 

BOTSWANA’S HUNTING BAN; THE ECONOMIC AFTERMATH

 

Quote

 

During his presentation, titled ‘Hunting Ban- The Aftermath’, Professor Joseph Mbaiwa, expounded the results of government’s decision to establish the hunting ban. He said community Trusts in the Ngamiland district was left bankrupt after the introduction of the hunting ban. 

 

According to official reports, Trusts lost money amounting to P7 million in the last twelve months because of the hunting ban. The reports also revealed that close to 200 jobs have been lost because of the ban, and there are fears that more retrenchments could occur.

 

A report prepared by the Ngamiland Trusts indicate that the Mababe Zokotsama Community Development Trust experienced a decline in income from P3.5million to P500 000 and shed around 30 jobs; Sankoyo Tshwaragano Management Trust’s income dropped from P3.5 million to P1.8 million, experiencing 35 job losses; Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust’s income fell from P4.8 million to P2.5 million and about 40 people lost their jobs.

 

 

 

Edited by inyathi
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@inyathi:

 

I concur with your above comments generally, but am confused by the first sentence.  It is self- evident that trophy hunting per se has minimal impact upon elephant population numbers.  However, the banning of legal hunting creates a void (quite apart from depriving local communities of income) into which poachers can move.  Poachers obviously do impact adversely upon elephant numbers.  Thus, hunting does, indeed, seem to have an effect, albeit an indirect one. The effect will, of course, be in a direction opposite to that which @optig supposes.  I accept that the question of how best to deal with surplus elephant populations is a separate one and the final sentence in my previous post was, perhaps, somewhat mischievous.

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Well, I must confess that I am as ecstatic as @optig and not at all surprised to read that you're mostly glum about the latest non-hunting developments, @douglaswise:D

 

@inyathi - do your guide friends know how many areas have indeed been converted into photo? I am looking for a concession-by-concession map that might show the transition (or lack thereof) but not had any luck so far.

 

The transition may be longer than hoped for (the wildlife also needs time to stop being skittish), but take the example of Wilderness Safaris in the John Calitz hunting area (I shared a link in one of my previous posts) - Calitz was a big ele hunter before the ban.

 

Take another example of NH18. This is part of the community owned Khwai concession, but before the hunting ban it was a hunting area. All of you know how good Khwai is for wildlife, but we mainly traverse NH19. NH18 has now been taken over by Colin Bell's new company and is home to Sable Alley, a really well-priced new camp in a prime area (that extends from the Khwai all the way up to Chobe and Linyanti).

 

I wish I had the time to do this research myself and post a map for all to see. Will try to do that later in the year, if someone else does not have the data at hand already. 

 

The number of elephants and overpopulation is a whole other issue, but STers may be interested in reading this interview with Dr. Mike Chase of Eles Without Borders - someone we should be all listening to as we discuss this issue.

http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?aid=65280&dir=2016/december/09

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30 minutes ago, Sangeeta said:

 

The article started with:   "No man alive has amassed more in depth knowledge of African elephants than Mike Chase, the founder of Elephants Without Borders"

 

-- Iain Douglas-Hamilton might dispute that.   And without the gender restriction, so might Cynthia Moss and Joyce Pool.

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Possibly, @offshorebirder, but I certainly believe that few people can have the perspective that Dr Mike Chase brings to this discussion.

 

The names you mention are all legends, of course, but their work focuses on ele behaviour and local ele populations. With all due respect, I believe Mike Chase's thoughts are more relevant when we're discussing issues related to pan-African distribution, the problem of 'refugee' elephants, elephant movements, ele corridors etc. I can't think of another person who has a better continent-wide macro understanding of the African elephant. Though open to hearing & reading more if you can suggest some names.

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@Sangeeta I also think Gomoti plains camp was in a former hunting zone.

 

there are quite a few popping up in Botswana now .... licenses take a heck of a long time in Botswana .....

 

 

 

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@Sangeeta:

 

I have read the article you cited which concerns Dr Chase and Elephants without Borders.  In it, Chase acknowledges that current elephant numbers in Botswana are "causing lots of damage to the environment and worsening human-wildlife conflicts" and goes on to state that "Chobe's current population is unsustainable..."  To this extent, his views are consistent with those I have previously been expressing on Safaritalk and to which you appear to take exception.  I think the key issue relates to the reasons for this overpopulation. Dr Chase appears to believe it to be due to the fact that elephants are using Botswana as a sanctuary from persecution in neighbouring countries.  In other words, were the persecution to be prevented, the elephant metapopulation would spread itself more evenly such that no ecosystem damage would occur.

 

It is correct to state that Dr Chase has, by dint of satellite tracking, added a great deal of fine detail relating to elephant movements in and adjacent to Botswana.  However, elephant movement patterns in the region were already well understood before his work began (eg Four Corners Elephant Study).  Thus, the fact that elephants move is well understood.  One should be more concerned as a conservationist with why they move.  One reason is obviously the dry season movement towards surface water.  This could legitimately be described as an annual migration and it is clearly important not to block access between wet and dry season ranges.  It is also true that fencing or harassment can prevent access to some otherwise suitable habitat and thus may cause overcrowding in "sanctuary" areas. What is often not acknowledged is that, given adequate feed and water, elephants will generally stay put until one or other resource becomes limiting, generally water.  More importantly, elephant numbers can double every 14 years in the absence of human persecution and this potential to multiply will eventually lead to loss of other wildlife species and habitat damage before population self limitation (slower breeding, higher mortality and emigration) and hence stability are established. 

 

It could be that there is currently sufficient elephant-suitable habitat in the region to allow the current numbers to exist without ecosystem damage by opening up corridors and providing greater protection.  There may even be scope for expansion in numbers (eg in Angola and Zambia).  However, sooner or later, one will be faced with dealing with the damaging consequences of overpopulation (when all elephant-suitable habitat is occupied at sustainable density and before it is "full up").  Arguably, as far as Botswana and Eastern Zimbabwe are concerned, this time has already been reached.  @Sangeeta is correct to find me gloomy in consequence of her ecstacy over the Botswana hunting ban.  I believe it will reduce  the area of elephant-suitable habitat that will be tolerated by the local population.  She believes that this can be avoided by upping ecotourist numbers.  I hope, but very much doubt, that she is right.

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21 hours ago, Sangeeta said:

Possibly, @offshorebirder, but I certainly believe that few people can have the perspective that Dr Mike Chase brings to this discussion.

 

The names you mention are all legends, of course, but their work focuses on ele behaviour and local ele populations. With all due respect, I believe Mike Chase's thoughts are more relevant when we're discussing issues related to pan-African distribution, the problem of 'refugee' elephants, elephant movements, ele corridors etc. I can't think of another person who has a better continent-wide macro understanding of the African elephant. Though open to hearing & reading more if you can suggest some names.

 

My comment was to dispute irksome and exaggerated claims by a gushing reporter.

 

That claim was "No man alive has amassed more in depth knowledge of African elephants than Mike Chase".   It was not  "whose thoughts are more relevant to refugee elephants" or "who has a better continent-wide macro understanding of the African elephant".

 

 

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@douglaswise, thanks for your measured response. I will admit I was being flippant in my reference to your gloom (but only because of that 'ecstasy' jab :D )

 

As a matter of fact, I don't disagree with a lot of what you say in your last post at all. But I think we start out at different places when we look for our solutions.

 

Yes, it is indeed my contention that when there are so many African range states with such a paucity of elephants (mainly due to poaching), that I believe we should first be looking for solutions that increase and improve habitat, before we get anywhere near considering lethal solutions. Whereas the 'wildlife management' side of the debate seems to come down immediately in favor of hunting or culling or some other lethal solution.

 

There may come a time when the planet is 'full up' but we're a long way from there. And I don't think we can kill & cull our way out of the problem anyway.

 

As I am sure you know, Dr Chase headed up the Great Elephant Census, and it is thanks to that extraordinary project that we now have some understanding of how eles are faring throughout the continent. The project didn't just produce a bunch of satellite markers and images, but a wealth of data that can be used to tackle the most vexing issues of habitat loss, corridors, poaching etc. It was the abysmal numbers reported by this project about the decimation of the ele population in the Selous & their marked decline in the Rungwa-Ruaha ecosystem that finally prodded the Tanzanian government into some semblance of action. Likewise in Niassa in Mozambique.

 

All of which makes me an unabashed fan & very glad there is someone who can see the forest, and not just the trees.

 

Happy to call it truce for a bit :P

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This link below is the actual academic paper from the census.

 

https://peerj.com/articles/2354/

 

Interested readers can find tons of information on the Great Ele Census all over the Internet and it has been discussed here on ST as well.

Edited by Sangeeta

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@Sangeeta:

 

Thank you for your gracious response in post #46 and the subsequent link to the academic paper relating to the GEC.  In fact, I had already read it in some detail and have discussed it with others.  You are, of course, correct to highlight the main lesson of the GEC, namely that elephants are severely under-represented in the so-called "protected" areas of many range states.  This was already well known to most interested people before the publication of the GEC, but the latter provided a very useful summary of the entire continental situation.  I might add that there has been some questioning by other authorities as to the validity of the GEC figures for Botswana and Zimbabwe (combined).  There has apparently been a huge reduction in the numbers of elephants relative to those of the previous and relatively recent census which cannot readily be explained entirely by poaching. This raises methodology questions.  Dr Chase has been asked for an explanation, but, apparently, has failed to respond.

 

I am very happy to agree with you that, in most range states and over the great majority of elephant -suitable protected area, the principal aims of conservationists must be to protect wildlife from poaching by policing and by enabling local communities to benefit more from its presence.  It is only in some 15% of the total protected area that elephant numbers may be deemed excessive.  Unfortunately, 60% of all elephants reside in this 15% (all in Botswana and Zimbabwe).  Table 2 of the GEC Report highlights this by showing densities/sq km of protected area on a country by country basis.  Even this, however, fails to give the full picture.  For example, there would appear to be four separate populations of elephants in Zimbabwe.  Three are stable or increasing in number.  One (Sebungwe) is being progressively wiped out by poaching.  Local overpopulation can thus be even worse than implied by the GEC data.  It is, of course, my contention that conservation managers should be just as (or more) concerned over problems of under-population as by those of local over-population. However, on this site, I have tended to emphasise the latter because they are often ignored.  I have written a document (unpublished) that sets out my detailed views on the subject, but it is about 8 pages long - which would be excessive to post here.  However, should you (or anyone else) care to read it, please contact me on the Personal Messaging Service and I will send it.  It is a work in progress and my views are subject to alteration in the light of new or alternative evidence.  I would thus be grateful for constructive and unemotional criticism.

 

It is my personal view that, perhaps, the person who made the greatest contribution to an an understanding of elephant population dynamics and conservation was Dick Laws, who died in 2014.  Part of his autobiography is freely available on line (www.spri.cam.ac.uk/resources/autobiographies/richardlaws/richardlaws2.pdf )  I won't pretend that it is well written.  Nevertheless, Chapters 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13 are, in my opinion, essential reading for those who have a serious interest in elephant conservation.  The author's elephant studies took place in Murchison Falls NP (Uganda) and Tsavo NP (Kenya).  These were contrasting Parks (high fertility/high rainfall in the former and the opposite in the latter).  Another major contributor to an understanding of elephant ecology is John Hanks.  His very readable and well-illustrated book, "The Struggle for Survival - The Elephant Problem" describes his research on elephants in Zambia.  I think it is now out of print, but still obtainable through Amazon.  I would also like to mention the work of Graham Child in Zimbabwe.

 

 

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Creating new boreholes doesn't strike me as being a particularly good idea as it will lead to habitat homogenisation. It's good for species that need access to lots of water, such as elephants. It's bad for specialist species that do well in arid environments as they will be outcompeted when other species are drawn in by plentiful water supplies. I'm not familiar with the areas discussed in Graeme Pollock's message so I may be completely wrong with regards to this specific area but I think that it's a bad idea in general. To give an obvious example, lion and spotted hyena numbers increased in Kruger when new water holes were created. This lead to a decrease in wild dog, brown hyena and cheetah numbers. New Scientist article describing this interaction here

 

Edit: Just noticed that the post I'm referencing was made 5 years ago :)

Edited by Csaba

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@Csaba:

 

While I appreciate that the post you were referencing was made 5 years ago, I think you have raised one of the most important subjects that bear on the future of African wildlife conservation, namely the provision of artificial water holes.  It tends to divide those who believe that "nature" should be protected from man and those who think that conservation of wildlife is best served by active management.

 

There is undoubtedly some truth in your assertion of habitat homogenisation.  This, undoubtedly has some downsides of which you cited one (lions v wild dogs).  Another might be elephants v  baobabs (and many other trees).  However, there are also upsides provided by the provision of artificial water holes.  They allow a greater diversity and biomass of mammalian wildlife than would otherwise occur.  This might be regarded as a good thing because human population growth is inevitably pushing wildlife into smaller areas and those that are unsuitable for farming, often because of lack of surface water.  However, it is only a good thing while the vegetation in the area remains sustainable and is not totally or partially destroyed by excessive consumption.  In the natural course of things, this will, without intervention, naturally happen.  I think there is good evidence to suggest that some increase in grazing biomass, occasioned by water hole provision, may increase plant productivity.  However, the initial increase can be followed by catastrophic decline if biomass keeps growing.  Thus, I would argue that artificial water hole provision is generally desirable, but ONLY if mammalian biomass is kept to sustainable levels by predators or by culling.  Clearly, elephants pose the biggest challenge because lions won't have much effect on their numbers, leaving culling as the only option. I accept that the "guild of predator" effect will disadvantage wild dogs and agree with your cited article in its suggestion of how this situation can be ameliorated.

 

The whole subject of the effects of artificial water hole provision, be they beneficial or adverse, is immensely complex and requires a detailed understanding of primary plant productivity.  I do not have such understanding and would love to learn more.  However, I am certain that buying uncontrolled growth of elephants with water holes is akin to humans buying economic growth by unsustainable borrowing - it can't go on for long.

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