For supporters of sustainable use and of hunting as part of it, I would not be celebrating just yet over Botswana announcing the lifting of the hunting ban.
If the government can weather the hurricane that surely will rage and stick to its policy, implementation of the hunting system will be under intense scrutiny by the anti-use lobby and the media.
This scrutiny is a hazard, but it also offers a great opportunity to disseminate positive messages, if the hunting is run right, because of all the media looking on to find critical stories to gain eyes.
What are the messages:
- hunting concessions conserve huge tracts of habitat for all wildlife, preventing conversion to agriculture
- hunting is low-impact, in contrast to high-impact photo tourism, the latter of which can be very hard on the environment
- hunting offers employment and income in marginal environments where there are few economic alternatives, an incentive for people to want wildlife to prosper
- hunting provides protein to local communities
- if allowed by law, hunting can stimulate subsidiary economic opportunities – hide tanning, sale of bushmeat, various crafts using animal parts.
The world is watching….