Khama’s anti-hunting campaign sparks controversy

Francinah Baaitse
NOT AMUSED: Dr Lubilo INSET: Khama

Former President Ian Khama’s recent mission to the United Kingdom, aimed at assisting lawmakers in their efforts to enact a ban on trophy hunting product imports, has stirred controversy in Botswana.

Community Trusts in the Okavango Delta, including Ngamiland Council of NGOs (NCONGO), have expressed dismay, citing concerns that Khama, who had previously enacted a hunting ban during his presidency, is now supporting anti-hunting campaigns in the UK.

Chairperson of Community Leaders Network in Southern Africa, Dr. Rogers Lubilo, conveyed the discontent of at least seventeen Community Trusts, emphasizing the potential negative impact on livelihoods and wildlife conservation efforts.

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Dr Lubilo stated: “Income derived from hunting and other wildlife-based industries are critically important for them and allowing their Community Trusts to function and deliver benefits at the grassroots level.”

Lubilo highlighted the significance of communities in Botswana as custodians of the largest population of Africa’s savannah elephants and other ecologically important species.

He urged UK and European decision-makers to listen to the communities in Botswana and Southern Africa before implementing any bans on hunting trophy imports.

NCONGO Director, Siyoka Simasiko, added that proposed bans on trophy imports by the UK and other European countries would have severe negative impacts on communities living alongside and conserving African wildlife in the Southern African region.

Simasiko emphasized the need to communicate their viewpoint to members of the House of Commons.

In response to the controversy, Chief Executive Officer of SKI Foundation, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo, clarified that Khama’s UK trip has been misunderstood.

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Kaboeamodimo stated, “The former president is not advocating for a ban of trophy hunting imports from Botswana or is campaigning in the UK against the livelihoods of Batswana from wildlife or putting jobs and businesses for Batswana in wildlife areas at risk. This is absolutely not correct.”

Kaboeamodimo explained that Khama’s motivation for supporting the ban on trophy importation into the UK is based on the decline of endangered and vulnerable species globally due to poaching and hunting.

He emphasized that Khama’s engagement did not target Botswana or pose a threat to jobs, tourism-related businesses, or conflict with government conservation programs.

Botswana Wildlife Producers Association expressed disappointment with Khama’s mission and plans to travel to the UK on March 22nd to present their perspective to lawmakers.

When addressing journalists at Botswana Craft last week, Chairman Leonard Matenje dismissed Khama’s claims, stating there is no evidence supporting allegations of species decline due to hunting activities in Southern Africa. “There is no evidence that hunting activities in Botswana or elsewhere in Southern Africa are leading to species decline to levels of endangered or extinction as being claimed. It is also misleading to attribute hunting and poaching in the same sentence,” he said dismissing all the claims raised by the former President.

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As of now, the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism has not responded to the controversy.



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