In order to diversify the wildlife industry and enhance game farming, the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism has announced measures to clear legislative constraints stifling such ventures and any other bottlenecks in the tourism industry.Tourism is Botswana’s third revenue earner but its potential is repressed by over reliance on wildlife viewing concentrated in the north of the country.
This development may shake the gamefarming sector, undertaken predominantly by rich people, from a prolonged economic slumber to lucrative opportunities which will be opened up by the lifting of the controversial trophy hunting ban in the communities-leased wildlife management areas.
Speaking during a meeting with independent researchers on Tuesday, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks deputy director Dr Cyril Taolo confirmed plans to provide a good environment for game farmers. He said the ministry in collaboration with the game farming industry, expects to finalise the sector’s guidelines during game farmers’ meeting to be held on September 20 at a venue not yet announced.
The meeting aims to solve the sector’s long pending thorny issues which include challenges in the local and export of meat carcasses from game farms, ownership of animals in the farms, and the problematic licensing and permits system. Taolo also revealed that the ministry was in the process of reviewing the game farming policy to update it for emerging and future issues.
Earlier on, one of the concerned researchers in attendance had opined that the government, in past years, undertook a big drive encouraging farmers to take up game farming.But, he added, government did little to clear some of the sector’s incapacitating laws. Some of these include stringent meat movement protocols imposed by veterinary authorities. He said available information shows there was a booming market nationally and worldwide for wildlife and its products. He said currently neighbouring countries enjoy these markets while the locals are just sitting on this gold mine.
South Africa has more than 10,000 farms in this lucrative industry. According to media reports, in 2011 a young buffalo bull in South Africa reportedly reached a record price of more than P17 million during an auction. Profits are apparently so lucrative that a mature Sable antelope can generate up to P 60,000 when sold to hunters. Locally, unbanning trophy hunting in the wildlife management areas is expected to divert the hunting windfall to the game ranchers.
With proper licensing, game farms can also undertake game drives. Some local reputable game farmers include cabinet ministers. For this reason, the Botswana Wildlife Producers Association is often viewed as an exclusive club of the rich.
Taolo told the gathering that the ministry was concerned that the sector was too “elitist” and was very expensive to break into. He said to solve this problem the ministry under the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) Programme promotes community ownership of game farms with two such ventures already in existence.
Date: 23 August 2013