madaboutcheetah

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

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Hello @douglaswise  i am reading a book called "Shaping Kruger" by a Mitch Reardon that covers, amongst other things, the provision of artificial waterholes in the Kruger at a time of prolonged drought, and the unintended consequences that this produced, leading to a reversal of the policy. It is as you say a very complex issue and indeed a fascinating one.You will know I am sure of the disastrous effects on Sable and Roan antelope the artificial waterholes produced in the Kruger causing not only an increase in Zebra and Wildebeest numbers in areas that could not support both them and the rarer antelope, but bringing with it more lions who thus had a bigger effect on decreasing numbers of roan and Sable and Eland  It also documents various culling attempts down the years, how successful-or usually unsuccessful they were, the biggest thing I have taken is just how complicated and, in the long term resilient environments can be

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@Towlersonsafari:

 

I haven't read the book to which you refer.  I am prepared to accept that  zebra and wildebeest (long and short grass grazers respectively) will initially increase in consequence of acquiring more grazing close to surface water.  It is less certain that there is a causal correlation between their increased numbers and the declining numbers of roan and sable.  I have, for example, read that anthrax might be a more important cause of the latter.  The species that benefits most from the provision of artificial water holes is undoubtedly the elephant, the numbers and biomass of which increase to the long term detriment of most other herbivores.  Absenting this rise in elephant numbers, one might hope that other herbivores would remain in balance with the food available to them, given that any increases above that might be checked by corresponding increases in predator numbers.  However, as I previously stated, I lack sufficient knowledge to have great confidence in this hope. I can say, however, that there is good evidence that the Kruger elephant culls, even before they were terminated, were never sufficient to reduce them to a sustainable carrying capacity - in fact, they continued to increase in number.  One cannot say that a policy has failed if it hasn't been properly implemented.  If, indeed, water holes, as you suggest, increase lion density to levels that won't allow rarer antelope to survive, I'd be more likely to advocate lion culling in parts of the Park where one wishes to support them than to close water holes.

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Here is a little anecdotal information from my last trip to Botswana. There are clearly may concession standing vacant. My cousin is trying to get one such concession and to justify it with eco-tourism. His motives are completely philanthropic, and we chatted for a while about how he plans to do it. The concession is around a million hectares, and there is much more land in Central Kalahari and around Ngamiland which is still in limbo. I wish my cousin all the success in the world, but I am afraid it's not looking promising. The boreholes are no longer functioning in these areas, and I also met a group who are trying to raise funds to keep these boreholes running. Many of these old concessions are now thinly patrolled by BDF, and poaching is on the rise. 

 

Botswana's growing poaching problem

“Recent research predicts that about 600 tonnes of bush meat is smuggled out of this district monthly.  I thought the research was over exaggerated but judging by the recent trends, 600 tonnes may be nothing,” Blackbeard said.

That's 600 tonnes monthly - as opposed to 200 tonnes annually before the ban. 

 

I don't want to go into too much detail, but the obvious tourist areas are as yet unaffected by the increase in poaching. Botswana has yet to replace the income lost from hunting through tourism. But even if they do, it simply means that more bed nights will be filled by the same tourist outfitters, and if need be, they simply expand their operation on the same land. They don't extend their operation to new lands. So the old concessions will still remain in limbo, and the poaching will continue.

 

The worst part of this whole experiment is the deliberate lack of data before the ban and the lack of information since the ban. You would think that if the government thought that the ban would be a success, they would have had all the studies to prove it. But they are silent. If the ban were a success, they would be rubbing it in the faces of the people who opposed it. 

 

I do love Botswana, and although my inner voice warned me that the hunting ban was foolhardy, I did hope that Khama who seemed pretty committed would be able to make a success of it. The problem with a mistake of this magnitude is that the consequences can be permanent. Once wildlife is lost and people move in with, it's very difficult to get wildlife back again. Tourists never visited the hunting concessions, and will hence probably never miss them, so they may rejoice at their victory for now.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I forgot to add the link to the study where it showed the level of bushmeat poaching prior to the hunting ban. You can download the study here. Look on page 5. 

 

that shows a 15 or 20 fold increase in bushmeat poaching. That most certainly isn't something to celebrate and a country mile from any claims of success. 

Edited by Bugs
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@Bugs:

 

I found your citation in the above post to be very illuminating.  I was fascinated, for example, by the extent to which hunting outperformed photo-tourism in economic terms.  I was further surprised to read that only 25% of photo-tourist spending stayed in the country compared to 75% of sales generated by hunting (on reflection, I suppose much of this disparity can explained by the relative differences in the ratios of international travel to total budget costs).

 

I was also very interested to read about very rapid and serious declines of 11 mammalian species reported by Dr Chase (EWB).  I suspect that these  might be as or more attributable to elephant (and human) competition than to poaching.

 

It is clear that several readers here are avid supporters of the hunting ban (eg @optig and @Sangeeta).  Could I plead with them to read the paper cited in post # 55 and come back with explanations or data to explain why the author has come to a faulty conclusion?  It is surely better to confront rather than to ignore that with which you don't agree.

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The link only lets me see the abstract, it appears to need a login to access the article. Or am I missing something?

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@TonyQ:  I was able to click on the link and obtained the full article.  I think it is well worth reading in full.

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@douglaswise

i tried again and got the full article. I don't know what happened the first time, but I will read it now!

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Posted (edited)

On 10/23/2017 at 11:02 AM, douglaswise said:

It is clear that several readers here are avid supporters of the hunting ban (eg @optig and @Sangeeta).  Could I plead with them to read the paper cited in post # 55 and come back with explanations or data to explain why the author has come to a faulty conclusion?  It is surely better to confront rather than to ignore that with which you don't agree.

 

yes @optig and @Sangeeta please do take a leaf out of the splendid @douglaswise 's book and when confronted by research that goes against your emotional response hold your hands up with good grace and admit you were very naughty and wrong!!! You only have to read @douglaswise 's considered views on grouse shooting in th uk, his gracious acceptance of the harm it does, and the  gentlemanly understanding that, on a seperate topic, that birds of prey do not negatively effect songbird populations to appreciate the correct approach to adopt.i am sure @douglaswise no longer kills magpies on his property because he now appreciates  this has no effect on songbirds. (actually i am just jealous he did not mention me as well)

i read the research article with interest. Information like this can only help understand what is happening, and whether a ban on hunting is working, or if it needs to be modified or abandoned in some areas in Botswana. and adopting an approach centering on local communities is also sensible as it is only with local support can wildlife flourish or be preserved. however i have some questions, designed to help the debate, and to improve my ignorance.

the report states

Quote

"Wildlife decline is cited by the Botswana Government as being the main factor that led to the safari hunting ban in the country in January 2014. Elephant Without Borders (a wildlife conservation NGO in Northern Botswana) concluded a wildlife statistics aerial survey in 2011. The NGO argued that wildlife populations in Botswana have been decimated by hunting, poaching, human encroachment, habitat fragmentation, drought, and veldt fires (Chase, 2011). Chase argued that 11 species have declined by an average of 61% since a 1996 survey. This included Ostrich numbers which he reported to have declined by 95%, wildebeest by 90%, tsessebe by 84%, warthogs and kudus by 81%, and giraffes declined by 66%. Chase (2011, p. 20) noted: ‘the numbers of wildebeest have fallen below the minimum of 500 breeding pairs to be sustainable. They are on the verge of local extinction’. The study by Elephant Without Borders was therefore used y the Botswana Government to inform the decision that led to the hunting ban in 2014."

 

I cannot see if there are any figures, either in the report or otherwise, commenting on whether the numbers of wildlife have increased. which leads me to ask-is it not too early to comment on whether the ban is having any effect on wildlife good or bad? what research or monitoring is in place to consider this?

the research asks local folk about how the ban is impacting on them-i would love to see the questions-what do local folk think of not being allowed to take animals for bushmeat when outsiders can come in and kill and then graciously hand over the meat? i know what i would think?

What efforts, if any, have been made to help those wanting to turn previous hunting areas into photo tourism? After all most of what are now tourism areas were presumably hunting areas? Are tourism numbers still increasing/? which suggests there is capacity,could Botswana market a lower cost option in poorer areas and continue its high cost option in the richer areas?

how was hunting regulated in the past, and how could it be improved in the future?

the revenue figures-does that include wages to local staff? i have assumed that photo tourism employs more people.

the 2 ideals of wildlife conservation and local empowerment and improvement of living conditions are all things that we can get behind,nad have to go hand in hand.i am not convinced this article proves that the hunting ban in Botswana has had a negative impact, but it is certainly food for thought

 

 

Edited by wilddog
Quote function for clarity
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@Towlersonsafari:

 

I'm glad you took the trouble to read the paper cited by @Bugs.  The questions you raise are pertinent, but, with more careful reading, it is possible you may have been able to answer some of them yourself. I accept that more definitive conclusions would have required more time and monitoring from a purist's point of view.

 

It seems a shame that the President took a decision that appeared to be opposed by most local experts.  Given that 22% of the land area of Botswana was made up of Wildlife Management Areas and Controlled Hunting Areas (as opposed to 17% that is formally protected by having Park or Reserve status), there would appear to have been more than enough space to trial different land uses with income and wildlife monitoring taking place.  This would seem to be better than taking an arbitrary and possibly bad decision that affects the entirety of the country's land area.

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Mr @Bugs presented in post 54 a Study and in post 55 another Study and, to whom it may concern, I will comment a little on the two study in question, I emphasize that both serve their purpose well and I believe that it is necessary to read about the subject. Both deserve better attention. Thank you for submitting your studies.


1st STUDY NAMED: Illegal Bushmeat huntIng In the Okavang Delta, BOtswana (DrIvers, Impacts and pOtentIal sOlutions)
AUTHOR: FAO - FOOD anD AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATIONS OF THE UNITED NATURES.

CO-SPONSOR
PANTHERA
BOTSWANA PREDATOR CONSERVATION TRUST

 

It presents excellent data and a realistic content of the problems caused by the high bushmeat rate in the Okavango region, with very clear conclusions as to causes and effects for the wild population as a whole, proposing clear and objective way, notably through the involvement of communities in proposing greater economic involvement with wildlife ..... makes an interesting observation: most hunters are those who own land and livestock, and do not directly face poverty , makes use of hunting only by the criterion of easy opportunity since the Penal Law is soft, and the meat used, even when it is not used commercially, it substitutes the need to use its domestic cattle (demystifies that poverty is the motor leading poaching). Another finding is that the biggest victims are not the big animals (buffaloes, giraffes and elephants). Excellent document, a more comprehensive reality on the problematic conservacionales that the whole Okavango is passing through, including its formally unprotected area.


2nd NAMED STUDY: Effects of the safari hunting tourism on rural livelihoods and wildlife conservation in Northern Botswana.

AUTHOR: Joseph E. Mbaiwa
ROUTLEDGE - TAYLOR AND FRANCIS GROUP


As the title suggests, it presents the negative consequences that the end of the trophy hunting imposed on the survival of communities and wildlife. It uses the "Social Exchange Teory" as a motor of development for the communities, in the which is very useful in terms of conservation. The problem is to inform that the trophy hunt provided many of the socioeconomic benefits until then (2014) and since its rupture the "social pact" has been broken and the community revolt provoked this poaching. It is a study laden with pro-hunting ideology, wildlife reduction and increased poaching are direct results of this suspension. Forgets that many of the problems of wildlife reduction and poverty community was already present in these places well before 2014. It is an immediate study aimed at instilling in readers a premise that before the ban the communities enjoyed numerous benefits and were satisfied with this model of sustainability.

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@douglaswise I think we can agree on the fact that more monitoring needs to take place to see what an effect banning hunting has on different areas and that all conservation decisions should be made only after good research.What the article/paper does seem to  highlight -although again  it would be interesting to read the questions and replies) i s that from a practical point of view you cannot just ban something that gave some benefits to at least some people and put nothing in its place.Ii do not however agree that the decision was arbitrary as I understand consultation did take place beforehand, and there was some research used to justify it. I suspect that the reason for some animals declining (Zebra and wildebeest)   is more long term and multi-factorial than we realize..Just for starters, Botswana has a roughly 30 year drought cycle,so conditions naturally change, add human encroachment, changing social values,more water apparently coming into the Okavanko delta which, I have read, results in (counter-intuitively) a growth in rough sedge like grasses which are unpalatable to wildebeest and Zebras-.to name a few factors-then life gets very complicated indeed!

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@Towlersonsafari:

 

I think  that we can, indeed, agree over several matters. discussed in this paper.  Certainly, declines in the species mentioned are very likely to be multi-factorial.  Also, if the President decided that a ban was in the country's interests despite majority opposition from wildlife advisers in the northern region, one could argue that the decision was not arbitrary.  However, we both agree that it would then have been equitable to compensate the losers in the north in the hope of mitigating an anticipated increase in poaching.  That said, numbers of many wildlife species were falling fast well before the introduction of the hunting ban.  I consider that one of the possible causes of this (along with those you listed) was habitat degradation and food competition occasioned by excessive numbers of elephants.

 

Two things that became clear from the paper:

 

1) Wildlife numbers increased after the establishment of CBNRM areas, almost certainly in consequence of the extra income received by the communities, in turn almost all attributable to hunting.

2)  The author (judging from both his name and the fact that he was based at the Okavango Research Institute at the University of Botswana in Maun) cannot be accused of being pro-hunting on "eco-imperialist" grounds.

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This was an interesting read, but all of you are debating this from an outsiders perspective. What lacks is somebody who knows the situation from the inside. There's more going on than anything that can be proven/quantified with a research project.

 

Don't get me wrong; I do not claim to be that person that's "in the know". All I can say is that I know some fantastic and 100% nature-minded people here in SA, people who are very wealthy as well, and they all tried (or are still trying) to establish ecotourism businesses in Botswana, and most of them are giving up, or are about to give up. So if you're wondering why the ban on hunting hasn't resulted in more ecotourism successes and -jobs, maybe you should all be looking at Botswana's internal kitchen. I'll share a few anecdotes.

 

- One person was involved in relocating rhino to the delta (so his heart is definitely in the right place), and leased an ex-hunting concession. He wanted to make it work but ran into a brick wall when it comes to environmental assessments for some new lodge locations. He simply can't get the permits he needs, even though his camps are 100% green and sticking to the Botswana standards. They simply want more money in the form of bribes. This is not just employees of whatever department he's dealing with. It goes high up.

 

- One person was sold a lease on a small island in the delta, and he made it work. After a few month the camp was kicking, and in the months to come above 90% occupancy was going to be reached. That was apparently the right time to let him know that the person who had leased the island to him was not entitled to do so. Within 24 hours he had to dismantle the whole camp and find some place else for his current customers. The financial hit he took to be able to reroute all his customers that were in the pipeline made him virtually bankrupt. Lo and behold; a mere two weeks after he was pushed off the island, the camp was kicking again, even with the same name! The camp indeed made a bit of a name for itself in that short time frame, and now someone else is reaping the benefits of that.

 

- A couple from SA managed a new lodge for a while, only to find out that the owner could not keep his promises. Not because the owner didn't want to, but because the employees wouldn't allow this couple from SA to do anything. For starters; the guy was promised he could guide, but guides in Botswana are very protective of their job and do not accept FGASA standards. Even though this guy was FGASA level 3, with full trails qualification and an SKS birding, he is not even allowed to take the exams in Botswana to get the certifications he needs. After a while both the guy and the lady of the couple weren't even allowed on the game drive vehicles anymore. The local guides simply did not want any authoritative figure on their vehicle to check how they conducted their game drives. So they did whatever they could to get the management couple to be forced to stay in camp. Don't know what authorities they went to but at one point the whole camp was forced to stop operating (you can imagine the loss of income). Local staff was very hostile towards this SA management couple, even though they never even slapped anyone's fingers. It was just that SA people are not accepted in the work force. It was racism, there's no other word for it. I am not taking sides here, it is just my own conclusion, after the couple told me their story (the woman in tears). I know these people very well. They are very honest people and not racist at all. After a while they just gave up and found another job back in SA. Here in SA their whole staff (both black and white) love them. The owner is still there, but doesn't know what to do. He can't find Botswana people with the skills needed, and at current no operator wants to work with him and no agent wants to sell his camp, simply because the quality of service is very low. Basically the staff has taken the whole place hostage, but the owner has trouble laying of people as they are very well protected. So he is losing money fast.

 

- Another couple spent most of their capital to acquire another ex-hunting concession. But now they found out they cannot get the permits to stay there and supervise their business. Simply because all permit applications in that district were stopped because of a local scandal (bush meat trafficking). No amount of begging and pleading helps. At this point they are both stuck in SA, not knowing what goes on exactly in their camps. They do get bad news very regularly. Recently they were told that the staff got stuck in a river with the most expensive vehicle. No one wants to take the blame (obviously), and they heard the vehicle is total loss. These owners are very frustrated because they don't even know where the vehicle was towed to, nor what state it is in.

 

- Another person had a camp on a concession of a local community, but was pushed off because of some inter-community dispute (if what I heard is correct). No matter what legal actions he tried, nothing helped. He had to go. He's back on now, and is happy about that. But while he was gone, he lost all his personal belongings as his house in Maun was robbed empty.

 

I could go on for a while. There's lot more stories like this, trickling down to us here in the south. Bottom line seems to be that the Botswana people do not want to work with (or for) any other nationalities. So stopping the hunting business may have been a good idea, but after that it went downhill. Maybe they thought more local people would step up and start an eco-tourism business. But it seemed it was mostly foreigners that stepped up, and that is not to the liking of a lot of people (both regular staff as well as people in the government. 

 

Botswana has the name of being "the ultimate place" when it comes to the government protecting it's wildlife and the promoting ecotourism. But I found out there's a very dark side to it...

 

All SA people who got involved in Botswana seem to say the same; "stay away from that place". That seems to be the bottom line at this point.

 

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@Towlersonsafari:

 

I've been thinking a bit more about your comments that growth of rough sedge-like grasses may have been responsible for the observed decline in zebra and wildebeest numbers.  I wonder whether you could provide a link to that information.  I'm not necessarily suggesting that it's wrong, but it strikes me as being counter-intuitive. Zebras are long-grass grazers and wildebeest like short grass.  The latter, therefore, to some extent, need the former.  However, perhaps a shortage of zebras caused the botanical changes observed.  If I had to guess, I'd suggest that this is as likely as the change in vegetation being the cause of the zebra decline.  I would thus like to look at the evidence you mention, if only for my further education. 

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@Jochen:

 

You are, of course, absolutely correct to suggest that the debate being conducted here may not be grounded in reality.  We have been considering the optimum strategies for wildlife conservation - be they non-consumptive only or in combination with sustainable use.  However, reality on the ground will largely determine what happens.  In countries with poor and expanding populations, the majority of whom are living under subsistence conditions and who are governed by those incapable of enforcing the law or unwilling to enforce it evenly across all sections of the populace, it is very hard to see any hope for attempts to improve wildlife conservation.  I fear that suitable wildlife habitat will shrink and be confined in future to fenced reserves.  Nevertheless, it is still important to get to grips with optimum forms of wildlife and habitat management even in such reserves as well as to determine the preferred methods of financing them.

 

In my newspaper today, I read a quotation that was attributed to the President of the EU Commission and described as one of the great political truisms of the modern age:  "We know what has to be done, we just don't know how to get re-elected afterwards".  If good governance proves impossible in supposedly well educated western liberal democracies, what hope is there for Africa - at least in those states which attempt to to copy our democratic systems? 

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"We know what has to be done, we just don't know how to get re-elected afterwards"

 

I'm totally stealing this. So spot on. The core of the problem with politics is that it is for the people (and ONLY for the people), and that it's always about the short term.

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