South AfricAn GeoGrAphicAl JournAl, 2017 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03736245.2017.1299639

Effects of the safari hunting tourism ban on rural livelihoods and wildlife conservation in Northern Botswana
Joseph E. Mbaiwa*
okavango research institute, university of Botswana, Maun, Botswana
ABSTRACT This paper examines the effects of the safari hunting ban of 2014 on rural livelihoods and wildlife conservation in Northern Botswana using the social exchange theory. The paper used both primary and secondary data sources. Data were analysed qualitatively. Results indicate that the ban led to a reduction of tourism benefits to local communities 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. After the hunting ban, communities were forced to shifts from hunting to photographic tourism. 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 Northern Botswana. The implications of 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 sustainability of livelihoods and wildlife conservation in Botswana.

 

Conclusion The safari hunting ban contradicts the goals of conservation and rural development which the CBNRM programme was established to achieve. The ban is reducing huge benefits generated by communities from safari hunting (such as income, employment opportunities etc.). Social exchange theory proposes that individuals and communities who receive more
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direct benefits from the tourism industry are likely to have more positive attitudes towards tourism development (Haley et al., 2005; Haralambopoulos & Pizam, 1996). The ban on safari hunting and reduction of economic benefits derived from CBNRM has resulted in the negative attitudes towards conservation and tourism development by communities. Restricting safari hunting represents a retrogressive step and a top-down imposition that would reduce the probability of wildlife-based land uses in many rural areas, and reduce community earnings and buy-in to wildlife conservation. Kenya banned hunting in 1977. Between 1977 and 1996, Kenya experienced a 40% decline in wildlife populations, both within and outside of its national parks (Scott, 2013). Scott argues that due primarily to poaching; Kenya’s wildlife numbers have continued to fall with wildlife numbers today being less than half of that which existed before the ban. Species such as lion and elephant are largely affected. In this regard, the benefits from tourist hunting can reverse the trend (Steve, 2013). It is from this background that a ban on safari hunting does not necessarily halt decline in wildlife populations, instead it can escalate it. Likewise, the 2001–2003 ban on safari hunting in Zambia resulted in an upsurge in poaching due to the removal of incentives for conservation (Lewis & Jackson, 2005). Hunting bans also reduce consumer confidence in affected countries as hunting destinations (Lewis & Jackson, 2005; Peake, 2004b). It is from this background that Botswana should learn the experience of other countries with hunting bans and adapt that which can work for the country and similarly avoid pitfalls such countries fell into. As a result, the lesson for Botswana is that detailed socio-economic and ecological studies are needed to inform decision on the ban of hunting in the country. There is lack of scientific evidence to support claims that hunting as carried out in Botswana is detrimental to wildlife populations. This means increased centralization of control over wildlife management and restrictions on the freedom of communities to derive benefits from wildlife via safari hunting are contrary to sustainable development ideals and will not promote wildlife conservation and rural developed as espoused by the social exchange theory.