Now Botswana voices fear at trophy hunt ban
By Michael Powell
dmg media (UK)
AFRICAN tourism chiefs warned yesterday that a ban on British safari hunters taking home trophies of their kills will harm wildlife conservation. MPs voted unanimously in the Commons on Friday to ban the importation of hunting trophies after a campaign by celebrities including Sir David Attenborough and Dame Joanna Lumley. But pro-hunting experts claim MPs and celebrities fail to understand that animal conservation and anti-poaching units are funded by the tens of thousands of pounds hunters pay to legally kill animals like lions, elephants and giraffes. The Botswana government last night warned the ‘false narrative that hunting poses a threat to species has no scientific basis and misleads the British citizenry and the world at large’. The country’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism said it was ‘concerned’ about the ban, which it said will deter hunters from travelling to Botswana and ‘negatively impact wildlife authorities’. It said: ‘Trophy hunting is a key component of sustainable use approaches to wildlife conservation in Botswana. ‘Forcing Botswana and other African nations to manage wildlife with reduced funding will negatively impact conservation projects, biodiversity enhancement initiatives and habitat protection. ‘It will also increase the risk of poaching and human-wildlife conflict, negatively impacting for example the largest herd of elephants that Botswana supports.’ Botswana is home to 130,000 elephants, the largest population of any country, and numbers have tripled in the past two decades. Hunters are allowed to shoot a quota. Botswana President Ian Kharma banned trophy hunting in 2013 but this was overturned six years later by successor Mokgweetsi Masisi after 17 people were crushed to death by elephants in two years. Mr Kharma said last night: ‘I showed that it was possible to get rid of trophy hunting and have a thriving tourist economy dedicated to photographic safaris which funded conservation. But the vested financial interests of big game hunting prove too alluring for this current regime.’ Outrage over trophy hunting followed the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist in 2015. After the Commons vote on Friday, Environment Minister Trudy Harrison said: ‘Cecil the lion has not died in vain.’ Both Tories and Labour pledged in their 2019 election manifestos to ban the importation of trophies from endangered species. Britain’s ban would follow similar legislation in the Netherlands, France and Australia. The US bans trophies of polar bears and cheetahs. Governments in Belgium and Finland have announced that they are bringing in bans this year.