Botswana new wildlife resources law coming soon to benefit rural communities
Botswana's hunting communities must begin to reap meaningful benefits from their natural resources, including wildlife, through international hunting.
Botswana's hunting communities must begin to reap meaningful benefits from their natural resources, including wildlife, through international hunting, writes Emmanuel Koro.
The Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) Act will be introduced soon.
“After close to three decades of unfruitful attempts to have a CBNRM legislation and practitioners’ manual for Botswana, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has joined forces with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist the Botswana government with drafting a CBNRM Bill and CBNRM practitioners manual,” said a recent statement issued by the Botswana UNDP Office.
The CBNRM Bill aims to ensure that local communities “don’t get a bad deal from hunting contracts.”
“Government will look at the agreements to ensure that communities are not getting a bad deal,” said Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), Dr Kabelo Senyatso delivering a presentation at the recent Africa Wildlife Consultative Forum held in Kasane. “We discovered some of the communities did not get a fair share in some of the 2021 hunting agreements. The DWNP reserves the right to determine whether or not the agreement between the community and the safari operator is fair or not.”
Months later, excitement is mounting in Botswana that the Bill can be debated in Parliament soon.
“Government will look at the agreements to ensure that communities are not getting a bad deal,” said the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), Dr Kabelo Senyatso.
“We discovered some of the communities did not get a fair share in some of the 2021 hunting agreements. The DWNP reserves the right to determine whether or not the agreement between the community and the safari operator is fair or not.”
Consultations with relevant stakeholders across the country were recently held, resulting in a majority of stakeholders agreeing that CBNRM legislation has long been overdue.
“The legislation will provide guidance on how community-based organisations (CBOs) can establish business arrangements and how to terminate business arrangements if they are not fruitful, it will also look at benefit-sharing between the government and the CBOs. This will ensure that there is rural development and communities benefit from the natural resources around them,” said FAO Legal Consultant Dr Emma Chitsove.
Seikaneng Moepedi, General Manager of Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust (OKMCT), welcomed the development, noting that the legislation has been long overdue, emphasising the importance of finalising and implementing it soon.
“The new legislation will give Trusts (Community Trusts) the power to control the pricing of wildlife during the hunting season, pricing of photographing rights in their concessions. It will also prevent the embezzlement of funds by CBO managers and give the community a fair chance of benefitting from their natural resources. We hope the legislation could be put in place soon because we want to take control of the resources in our areas and assist our communities,” said Moepedi.
International hunting revenue has already benefited Botswana's hunting communities in terms of conservation and socioeconomic development.
The proceeds from hunting have been used for wildlife conservation, including the hiring of community game scouts who conduct regular anti-poaching patrols.
The Chobe Enclave Community, which is located next to the Chobe National Park, has used hunting revenue to establish community stores, lodges, and capacity-building.
They have hundreds of thousands of Pulas (the local currency of Botswana) in their bank account. Professional auditing firms audit their books.
The introduction of the Botswana CBNRM Bill comes at a time when the hunting communities of Southern Africa are increasingly demanding win-win benefits from international hunting by cutting out the middlemen.
The local and foreign safari hunting companies that market southern Africa as a must-visit international hunting destination where the big five are hunted are the international hunting middlemen.
Representatives of Botswana's hunting communities stated recently at the African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Kasane, Botswana, that in order to reap more benefits from hunting, they intend to cut out the middlemen of international hunting.
These hunting companies purchase international wildlife hunting quotas from SADC hunting communities, sell huntable wildlife to international hunters, and handle their hunts in Africa.
Despite acknowledging that they are paid by safari hunting companies, the Botswana hunting communities that own the wildlife believe they should be paid more than they are now.
As a result, they have called for the elimination of middlemen.
However, representatives of Botswana's hunting communities have admitted that the displacement of the middlemen may take some time because they currently lack the skills to market their areas as appealing international hunting destinations.
They also lack skilled professional hunters to handle hunting for international hunters visiting Africa.
As a result, the hunting communities need the safari hunting companies that they want to eliminate as middlemen to first train them to market their hunts overseas and then to assist them in training professional hunters who will handle the hunts of international hunters who come to Africa in the future.
“We think this is the right time to remove the middleman and let communities market their own natural resources,” said a member of SADC Community Leaders Network (SCLN) and CEO Ngamiland NGOs, Mr Siyoka Simasiku.
“Communities should not be stakeholders but shareholders.”
However, Mr Siyoka said that this transition from middlemen to hunting community self-marketing will take time as “there is need for capacity building.”
Meanwhile, Chief Timex Maolosi of Botswana's Samunkuyo Trust stated that all community trusts in Botswana recently met in Maun and recommended the need for hunting communities to build capacity in order to market their wildlife to preferred markets.
“Communities should become shareholders or owners of the hunting industry in their localities,” said Chief Maolosi. “There is a need to do away with middlemen in the hunting industry but it will take time to achieve capacity building.”