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Sustainable Wildlife Utilization in Botswana: Hunting as a Conservation Tool
October 1, 2018 • 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Dept. of Recreation, Park and Tourism Science Seminar
Presented by ABS Alumnus, Dr. Joseph Mbaiwa, Professor of Tourism Studies & Director of the Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana
The utilisation of wildlife resources not only in Botswana but in Africa has become a critical question in the global stage. The case for safari hunting tourism in Botswana and Africa is a subject for prolonged debates and a contentious issue to conservation groups, academics, moral groups and to governments. Botswana banned safari hunting in 2014 in favour of photographic tourism. However, the Government of Botswana is criticized by communities living in wildlife areas and rely on safari hunting to sustain their livelihoods. Conversely, human-wildlife conflicts between agro-pastoralist and the tourism and wildlife sectors are on the increase. Crop raiding, livestock predation by wildlife cause conflicts between farmers and wildlife managers. Community-based organisations which relied on hunting have their livelihoods affected as they experienced a reduction of tourism benefits such as: income, employment opportunities, social services such as funeral insurance, scholarships and income required to make provision of housing for the needy and elderly. Reduced tourism benefits have led to the development of negative attitudes by rural residents towards wildlife conservation and the increase in incidents of poaching in wildlife areas. The implications of the hunting ban suggest that policy shifts that affect wildlife conservation and rural livelihoods need to be informed by socio-economic and ecological research. This participatory and scientific approach to decision-making has the potential to contribute to the conservation of wildlife resources and the improvement of rural livelihoods. A balance is needed between socio-economic and ecological factors in the decision-making process that affect wildlife conservation and livelihoods. In this regard, safari hunting may not necessarily be evil it is assumed to be but can be a conservation tool when informed by science.