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Indigenous Peoples Lose When Anti’s Win

It’s a complicated world we live in. 250 years ago, it took months for news to travel from Europe to the American colonies. Today via internet, smartphones and social media, we can know virtually instantaneously news from London, Johannesburg, Beijing, or how much money Kanye West needs to borrow from Mark Zuckerberg. But in a world nearing 7.5 billion people, many of whom are armed with a social media “voice,” an idea, campaign, or social movement, can evolve, morph, or spin out of control, resulting in unforeseen or unintended consequences. Take anti-hunters for example.

With a sparse population, vast mineral wealth, and an A-ticket ecotourism draw in the Okavango Delta, the country of Botswana is not as dependent on revenue from sustainable use hunting as many African countries. And when wealthy anti-hunting NGO’ and their social media minions pushed to ban hunting on government and community lands, the politicians caved and the anti’s celebration began.

“No more cruel hunting. Live and let live. Botswana has evolved” the anti’s cried with glee. But those pesky indigenous people that must live next door to wildlife don’t quite see it that way.

One of the benefits of tourist hunting in remote African bush is indigenous employment. In Botswana, this includes the Bushmen. When Botswana closed hunting in 2014, it promised ecotourism would take the place of hunting, but it didn’t. Ecotourism is economically viable only when certain tourist amenities can be provided, which just isn’t the case in the harsh Kalahari habitat in which the Bushman live. When hunting left Botswana, so did hundreds of jobs. Trackers, skinners, cooks, maids, gardeners, wait staff, and a myriad of other wage-earning jobs disappeared when hunting was banned. In order to feed their families, many Bushmen are forced to become poachers in their own land because the jobs left with the hunters.

Though the current plight of the Bushman is a tragedy, there are other consequences of Botswana’s hunting ban that are doing anything but saving wildlife. In fact, the hunting ban is responsible for the death of thousands of animals, with more and more dying every day. We’ll talk more about the unintended consequences of Botswana’s hunting ban in a future post.

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