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Very valuable information...Kwando vs. Wilderness Safaris

Very valuable information...Kwando vs. Wilderness Safaris

Sep 23rd, 2004, 10:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Very valuable information...Kwando vs. Wilderness Safaris

From: Rocco
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 2004 07:44:28 -0700
To: <[email protected]>
Subject: More info needed about Kwando


I am considering a visit to Botswana next year and Kwando is at the top of my list.

However, it must be said, that I am very much opposed to trophy hunting and one trusted South African agent has told me
that he received word that Kwando, according to your good friends over at Wilderness Safaris, allows trophy hunting on land that Kwando controls.

While I put Kwando ahead of Wilderness Safaris due to the guide & tracker system, I would be very hesitant to book with a company that permits (and profits from) trophy hunting. I realize that Kwando, itself, does not participate directly in trophy hunting, but please let me know if it is true that Kwando or any of Kwando's owners are indirectly involved in hunting.

While I believe Wilderness Safaris is overpriced, I do admire their conservation efforts and opposition to trophy hunting.

Please tell me more about this subject.

Thank you.



Dear Rocco,

Firstly, I am flattered that Wilderness Safaris finds Kwando Safaris so much of a problem, that they should feel it necessary to keep saying things about us. As you may know we operate 3 small camps in Botswana and 1 in Zambia, compared to their 22 camps, not to mention their operations in most Southern African countries. Seeing as they have raised this matter again I feel it necessary to give you a full background on hunting in Botswana and then contrast Kwando Safaris and what we and I personally do/have done and compare it to what I/we say/imply in our marketing material. By the way my personal e-mail address is [email protected] for future reference.

I have therefore attached something I wrote some time ago ? and updated for you tonight. I am in Miami at the moment and leave back to Botswana tomorrow so may be slow in responding if you come back to me. The document is more generic than your specific questions so firstly a little background.

I have a B.Sc. Agric. degree from the University of Natal in South Africa. I majored in Animals Science. I have been involved in conservation and have had an interest in resource economics all my life (even pre-adult). I have a long list of projects related to conservation and research where I have been one of the main people involved.

This includes the starting and establishing of Phinda and CCA (Conservation Corporation Africa). I in fact pre-date everyone with this project as the initial idea was mine and then I was joined by others in the following sequence to make it a reality ? Trevor Coppen, Alan Bernstein, Dave Varty and then Les Carlisle. Phinda is one of many similar conservation projects in existence today but it was the pioneer in 1989. It is the project on which all others have based themselves in Africa and around the world. The development and implementation of the conservation side of Phinda was my responsibility as a director of CCA until I left CCA in 1994.

I am proud of what we achieved from a conservation and resource economics perspective there. However there are many other smaller scale projects that exist today due to work and leadership I provided the founders and motivators as well as one much larger project. This larger project is the whole Niassa Game Reserve (Mozambique) which was paid for and led by a very secretive and exceptional person living in London called Halvar Astrup. The result of this project is over 3 million ha. (1.5 times the size of the KNP) is now conserved in a combination of hunting and core conservation area and this will soon become one of the desired photo safari areas in Southern Africa but only because hunting (and Halvar Astrup) financed it to the stage when the photo tourism will be viable.

I cannot make any grand claims in Botswana though, for reasons expanded upon in my article but for that matter neither can Wilderness Safaris. Now to your question:

We have two areas we operate in NG14 and NG20 with a total of over 1 million acres (407 000ha). The Kwando River concession is 232 000 ha or 573 000 acres on the border with Namibia (East and North of us) this means that about 90 000 ha is legally not allowed to be hunted in terms of Botswana?s policy of 10km from borders are not to be used for hunting. This is around 222 000 acres on non-hunting zone. To put this into context the Vumbura/Duba Plains area of Wilderness Safaris is only 60 000ha. The whole Sabi Sands reserve with all their lodges is only 65 000ha and Hluhluwe/Umfolosi Game Reserves (KwaZulu Natal?s biggest) is only 99 000 ha combined.

We have 3 photographic camps totalling 44 beds in this 1 million acres. Behind the photographic zone is the hunting zone in the Mopane. There are 3 hunting camps in these 2 areas with only 12 beds between them all. We are in the process of building a new photo camp in the Kwara area (8 beds only) and this will reduce the hunting zones again ? part of the process I spoke of at the end of the document. The hunting quota?s in these areas are very restricted and is effectively 8 elephant and 16 buffalo and 4 leopard. This hunting is not done by Kwando Safaris and never has been.

Consequently, Lagoon and Lebala are, after 2 other camps, further from a hunting area than any of the other camps in Botswana and we are not affected by citizen hunting either due to the border restriction and the remoteness of the areas.

The deal we did in order to secure the Kwara area involved the hunting quota. By the way Wilderness Safaris used to operate Kwara camp under the same arrangement but lost the camp due to an financial dispute not an ecological one.

Wilderness Safaris operates 22 camps with many many beds in total concession areas amounting to less than 70% of the area in which we operate. Therefore, in truth, they have a much higher density impact on their environments than we have (all impacts considered) ? and in many of these areas they have secured permission to exceed the original bed restrictions that the scientists recommended for these areas in the original management plan for Northern Botswana.

Some of their camps ? Chitabe for example is less than 1.5 km from a hunting zone and if the trees in front of this camp were felled you would be able to watch the hunters in the neighbouring camp sitting on their decks. So all our camps are much further from hunting zones and camps that many of theirs. So if hunting impacts us it must affect them worse ? by simple logic.

Wilderness Safaris have an ongoing and long standing relationship with the McFarlane family including Alistair, who is a convicted poacher (of lions in a park) and who is not allowed to be a member of HATAB (Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana) or the BWMA (Botswana wildlife management association ? represent the hunters). They are in fact joint shareholders with Wilderness Safaris in the Vumbura concession and the McFarlane?s are still currently personally involved in hunting businesses. So their connection is much more direct than ours. People in glass houses should not throw stones!

Wilderness Safaris only stopped operating in hunting areas 3 years ago after 23 years in the safari business. Kwando Safaris is now only 7 years old so I am justifiably proud of what we have achieved in this time. I stand for integrity in our industry and am sure that you will find that my integrity is not questioned among my colleagues in the safari industry in most Southern African countries. I believe that Kwando Safaris has to be firm and resolute to stand for what we believe is the right way forward for conservation and lead our guests and not be lead by them, as after all they go home when their safari is over ? we on the other hand have some responsibility for the future of the wild areas in Botswana. Therefore, we take a stand on principal and not on how to get more bookings in the short term.

We also do not attack other companies ? I would not normally mention all the above but I can see that you would like a full explanation to understand the situation and I hope what I have provided will enable you to form you own informed opinion of Kwando Safaris.

Finally, you will notice the complete absence of ?popular? statements in our marketing material claiming to change the world, uplift communities and save the world in the name of another booking. I fundamentally believe that ?not save?(populist terms) but to ensure Africa?s wild areas you need to ?go on safari? ? however, this belief is based on a simple resource economics argument. Not one designed to win popularity contests, as these ?save and feel good marketing statements? have no value to poor rural Africa and that means that sustainable utilization is what it is all about in the end.

Finally ? allow me to blow my trumpet one last time. 65% of our management are black citizens of either Botswana or Zambia (Songwe Village) - this is from scratch in 7.5 years ? no other company in Botswana is even close to us. We ?walk the walk? not just ?walk the talk?.

Thank you for the opportunity to explain our position to you. Please feel free to ask me for any further clarifications or comment. I hope this was useful for you.


Kevin Leo-Smith
Kwando Safaris

Roccco is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2004, 10:54 PM
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(My response)


Thank you so much for providing me with such an enlightening response. Although Wilderness Safaris seems to win the popularity contests with my fellow safari enthusiasts that I encounter on internet bulletin boards, I have always favored Kwando, and now, at least, I know why!

Simple mathematics in the past told me that Kwando was to be commended for having so much more land than Wilderness Safaris and so many fewer camps. When it is all added up, it seems as if Wilderness Safaris has about 10x as many beds per hectare as does Kwando.

I appreciate the fact that Kwando does not pat itself on the back on its website and I think Kwando's website is all the stronger for it.

You are to be commended on your pioneering involvement with Phinda. I see that they just took down the fences between Zuka and another neighboring area where hunting had existed until possibly just a few months ago.

I guess considering all the land mass (1 million acres) that Kwando possesses, the minimal hunting that takes place on the concession is much better than had a hunting operation been given control of the area.

I also find it commendable about your 65% employment rate of black managers. One of the only other camps that I saw this occur was at Matetsi Water Lodge, a CCA camp.

Thanks again and you can count on my future patronage.

Roccco is offline  
Sep 24th, 2004, 06:06 AM
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Note: I did not have permission to post the previous e-mail on a public forum, but I saw it as my service to do so. While I will not win a Pulitzer Prize anytime soon for my little investigations, I do think I have a responsibility to share what I know with other Africa aficionados.

In all fairness, I add another e-mail that was sent to me, earlier this morning:

Dear Rocco

I found your postings on the Fodor?s website forums ? I have never used these forums (or any other for that matter) and did not realise the kind of info that there is floating around on these websites. I did not intend my reply to become public as I am not inclined to negatively portray competitors. So I would like to add the following:

Wilderness Safaris have run and continue to run a very professional business despite its large size and extensive reach in Southern Africa and across all their divisions. I am always impressed that despite their size (they are the biggest) that they are able to maintain the same Wilderness standards in all their camps, air charters, ground operations and tour operations . They are and likely will remain one of the reference safari tourism businesses in Africa. My comments were a response only to their comments about us and were not intended to portray them any differently to the foregoing statements.

They have been trail blazers in Botswana and other countries and have excellent camps, staff and operations and I have no hesitation in recommending their camps (and booking them too when we are full) due to the high standards they achieve.

Kevin Leo-Smith
Kwando Safaris
Roccco is offline  
Sep 24th, 2004, 08:14 AM
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Roccco, Thanks for investigating and posting this. I really had wondered about Kwando's relationship with hunting given their history.

Since the letter from Kwando is so long, and some of the things they said (esp about WS) could be confusing for newbies, I thought I would summarize:

1) Kwando holds several huge concessions, in which hunting is allowed by the government in some areas, but not others. In the Kwando areas where hunting IS permitted, there is still hunting going on by some other operator. (So Roccco, the SA travel agent's info is actually correct.)

However Kwando is opening a new camp which should further reduce the area where hunting actually takes place. I would like more info on what this actually means. If it actually means that the number of hunting licenses and animals killed goes down when these new tourist beds go in, that is very good.

Also, what is Kwando's masterplan/ long-term plan with respect to allowing hunting camps within their concessions. When would it be eliminated entirely? Given the concession agreement, is it possible to do this?

The case at WS is still excellent, especially on the hunting issue, and some of the comments from Kevin don't really address this, but tar WS for being close to hunters.

1) WS can't help that they are situated next to a hunting concession/camp at Chitabe. It is a different concession, held by a different owner, over which they have no control.

2) Vumbura is in a reserve (I think Kwedi) that has been handed over the local people in the Okavango community trust. This reserve is one where the government permits hunting. This owner (the Trust) picks an operator...and for some reason, perhaps historical, perhaps financial or perhaps to get the contract, WS and some other party (this family which includes hunting interests) got this contract. I suspect it was because this family had hunting rights here before the concession went up for negotiation. BUT WS does not allow ANY hunting now anywhere in this concession, so this is a hunting area where no hunting occurs, thanks to WS. However some people with hunting interests get revenue from this. This is not bad, it is still good--WS basically pays off the hunting interests, but protects an area which could be used for hunting.

Finally, WS has several other concession--the Jao Concession (Jao, Tubu, Kwetsani, Jacana) which also has hunting rights, but does not allow hunting. I believe the same is true of Xigera.

SO: WS may do business with hunting interests, but allows no hunting in the concession areas they hold. Kwando holds huge concessions where hunting still occurs, but they do not do it, and it sounds like they are trying to replace these hunting camps with revenue from pure photo safaris.

I do hope Kevin will further clarify (see my questions, above) . And of course, I was very happy to see info about Kwando's low impact on the environment and policies about hiring local people.
tashak is offline  
Sep 24th, 2004, 06:05 PM
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I have received reliable information that tells me that I was wrong about Ker & Downey Botswana and Ker & Downey USA. While I would have been right up until a couple years ago, the photo safari operation and the hunting operations are now supposedly completely separately owned.

I guess some Houston billionaire auto dealer used to own all of K & D, but he sold off the photo safari portion of the operation a couple years ago.

Also, for whatever it is worth, even the hunting operations affiliated with K & D Tanzania are supposedly promoting change within the industry. For example, for whatever it is worth, only male lions 8 years old and above are hunted, so that they are no longer shooting the alpha male and upsetting the whole system.

I apologize for the misreporting of the prior information. It would have been correct a couple years ago, but is no longer correct today.
Roccco is offline  
Sep 25th, 2004, 12:35 PM
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Rocco, since it appears we cannot add posts to the earlier thread on anti-hunting where this Ker & Downey discussion took place, I think it would be responsible to put this apology and retraction in a new thread with the proper and clear subject header. Otherwise people who stumble upon your earlier thread will not get this important retraction. Thanks for all your efforts re: anti-hunting.
Clematis is offline  
Sep 27th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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To online Fodor?s posters;

Late last week I was informed by a previous client of potentially libelous remarks being made on the online chat room at Fodors.com. I entered the site and to my dismay I found individuals making untrue and harshly negative statements about my companies, Ker & Downey Botswana and Ker & Downey USA. The intent of these individuals was apparent: to cause harm to our companies. I?ve seen instances where competitors go online using an alias and viciously attack their competition. I don?t know if that was the case here, but such unchecked propaganda must stop.

I want to thank Liz for her efforts to tell the truth. Liz has been on safari with us and knows how we do business. I also want to thank Kevin Leo-Smith of Kwando Safaris for his input. Kwando operates Kwara Camp which borders our Shinde Camp. Kwando has been a very good neighbor.

Finally, I want to thank Rocco for setting the record straight. In the future I would ask anyone who has a question about what we are doing to send an email to me at [email protected] before posting online. I?ll be happy to respond individually to any such queries.

In light of the aforementioned comments, however, I am compelled to respond with some truths about our Company ? Specifically, who we are, and who we are not?

I don?t believe you?ll ever find a Ker & Downey Botswana camp in an architectural digest. We operate traditional safari camps as opposed to the current trend of ?spas in the bush?. What you will find are great service, local guides doing the everyday guiding (did you know that the first local guide to pass the Botswana guides license exam is still employed by Ker & Downey and is now a Specialist Guide), small camps with small infrastructures that will leave only a footprint once they are taken down, management that cares about the health issues of their staff and so they provide transportation from camp to medical facilities once a month for treatment, and management in Maun that cares about the local people so they contribute clothing and food and other durables to the local AIDS communities. In fact Ker & Downey Botswana made it a point to continue this expensive effort even in the hard times after September 11th. Here in the U.S. Ker & Downey employees donate clothing for AIDS orphans which are shipped to Maun on a regular basis by my wife. To learn more or participate, please go to www.kerdowney.com/outreach.cfm.

At Ker & Downey USA we strive to provide programs that are interesting and are focused around wildlife. I just returned from a whirlwind trip through East Africa. One of the stops was Rwanda. My purpose for the trip was to determine if the area was safe for our clients, which by the way I feel it is. I implore each of you who are interested in protecting wildlife to schedule a trip to Rwanda to see the Mountain Gorillas. The only way these endangered gorillas will be protected is through tourism. There are other companies that send clients to Rwanda; of course we prefer you book through us, but just do it!

At Ker & Downey USA all of our employees take trips to Africa, the Middle East, Asia, or South America once a year. Even accounting and administrative employees have the opportunity to travel. We believe the benefits of hands-on experience far outweigh the significant expense of such travels.

Ker & Downey has been a conservation pioneer in the safari business, and remains so today. From initiating the first guide training programs, to developing conservation practices that are widely used throughout the safari industry today -- our primary goal is to provide the opportunity for a personal relationship with nature for our guests. We want our guests to be so moved by their own experience that they depart determined to help conserve our natural heritage... determined to spread the word about conservation... determined to return. ?Changing the way you see the world, without changing the world you see!? Learn more at www.kerdowney.com/conservation.html).

In 1996, the current shareholders purchased Ker & Downey USA and Ker & Downey Botswana from a group that also included Ker Downey Tanzania. So prior to 1996 there was a connection to Ker Downey Tanzania. We remain unaffiliated with any hunting company or hunting group since 1996. One of our shareholders, Thebe Tourism Group represents the first Black Empowerment Company formed in South Africa, growing from humble beginnings in 1992. You can learn more about Thebe Tourism at www.thebetourism.co.za.

In addition to Africa, our areas of interest include the Middle East, South America and soon Asia. Our newest program to China centers on the Giant Panda Research Center in Wolong Nature Reserve.

Thank you,

David Marek
DavidM is offline  
Sep 27th, 2004, 01:20 PM
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Posts: 33
Mr. Marek,

Bravo what a wonderful post that reflects the passion you have for
Ker & Downey. I am proud to say my wife and I are in a group of 34 that have chosen Ker & Downey to handle all our
arrangements for a South Africa Safari
in 2006...Tiffany of your Dallas office is going above & beyond for us consistently. You can count on my support and referral business.

colonelwes is offline  
Sep 29th, 2004, 03:08 PM
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Message: In light of all the back-and-forth on this issue, I spoke with Kevin Leo-Smith (Kwando Safaris) yesterday and he asked me to post his article on the subject.

Regardless of one's own stance on these issues - BTW, my own are that I am very much opposed to trophy hunting - this article is quite informative.

By Kevin Leo-Smith (B.Sc. Agric.)

Botswana, as a country, has some of the best preserved and conserved wildlife and wilderness areas left in Africa. Nearly 40% of the surface of the country is under wildlife or formal conservation due to the modern and progressive policies followed by the government - these policies were developed under the guidance of the sustainable use philosophy initiated by globally respected organisations such as the WWF and SA Nature Foundation. This philosophy recognises that wildlife and wilderness must be relevant to the global community, as much as it must be valuable and relevant to the local community The local community has the responsibility for the resources at the end of the day. Consequently, policies and ideologies that do not take the local situation into account will always fail - despite emotional pleas by the wealthy western interests.

I think that the current situation in Zimbabwe provides a clear example of what can happen when local communities are isolated from direct benefits from land and it's fruits in their struggle for survival. So what I have alluded to is not drawn from the luxury of camp fire musings.

The responsibility to protect these areas in Botswana falls directly to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and the respective Land Boards set up by acts of parliament - they in turn have developed the management plans for Botswana's wildlife areas outside the parks and reserves. Almost all land in Botswana is state land. The private sector or individuals only get leases over the land and never ownership. The lands collective managed as wildlife/conservation areas are divided up into the following:

1. National Parks
2. Game Reserves
3. Game Management Areas
4. Community Management Areas

The Game Management Areas in turn are subdivided into the Controlled Hunting Areas and the Photographic Management Areas. All these areas are subject to specific broad management policies and plans set up by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. These plans take into account the type of area and the geophysical conditions of the area. From these broad plans guidelines are drawn up to determine the actual limits to resource utilisation for both consumptive and non-consumptive uses. Consumptive uses include hunting, fishing, veld product harvesting etc. Non-consumptive uses are mainly photographic safaris and other recreational uses.

The purpose of this article is to set out in an unbiased and factual way, the reality of safari tourism in Northern Botswana specifically. This area being the prime safari tourism region of Botswana. What I have set out above applies to the whole of Botswana - what follows is specific to the Northern Botswana safari areas ie. the Okavango Delta, Moremi, Okavango, Chobe, Kwando and Linyanti River systems.

In the fairly recent past up to approximately 1996 - Northern Botswana was essentially under 2 management regimes (1) hunting areas (2) National Parks and Game Reserves. The hunting areas were controlled by 3 hunting companies and they all were involved in photo tourism either directly or with partners. However, the photo tourism was definitely the second cousin. The Botswana government sensibly decided to change the status quo and to sub divide the areas into smaller units and to define their use as more specifically as laid out above. This lead to the allocation of the current concession areas in Northern Botswana, that are in operation today. The result has been increased overall tourism revenue and has led directly to the rapid growth of photographic tourism we see today. It has to be said, this growth came at the expense of the hunting industry, which is now much smaller in relation to the whole tourism industry than in 1996. However, it is still and will remain a significant revenue earner and employer in Northern Botswana.

The local communities living in these remote wilderness areas have been left behind, to a large extent, by the rapid advancement of modern Botswana. It is very difficult to provide services and to educate people who live in remote isolated communities. For these rural communities, wildlife are either a source of food or revenue - or wildlife are not. If not, then wildlife has a nett negative effect on the lives of these communities. Therefore, most communities would choose to have the wildlife exterminated unless they derive simple and obvious and direct benefits.

The government of Botswana has bravely and steadfastly stuck to its policies through the various transitions to the modern wildlife situation. The government persevered, despite energetic local opposition, while the benefits of their new policy work slowly through the system to provide the local community with nett positive benefits from the wildlife under the current dispensation.

It is therefore essential, that the wider safari tourism industry, understand and embrace their responsibilities during this transitional period. The safari industry must educate the non-local and largely international community about the realities of remote rural communities who in fact control the future of these important wildlife and wilderness areas in Botswana.

Some people, NGO's and safari companies seek cheap short term gain out of negative mud slinging, in the so called pro and anti hunting debate, in order to pad their short term reputations and more importantly - profits - in the name of conservation (preservation). This will at best provide very short-term advantage and could predictably have the opposite effect from their stated intentions or at best set back hard won progress many years.

Therefore, I have tried to be neutral and objective when writing this article. In order to be quite clear on this I will sketch my personal beliefs in the next paragraphs so readers can be aware of my inclinations and this hopefully will leave readers to make up their own minds. I have attempted to leave out all standard cliché's and elaborate words designed to bias the readers' views.

Personally, I am not a hunter now or have ever been - I have absolutely no desire or interest in shooting a bird or an animal. However, I am not philosophically opposed to hunting as legitimate leisure or sustenance activity - provided it is done under formal control in a professional and clinical way. In many areas the culling of animals has to be done to ensure biodiversity conservation. After all biodiversity conservation is the "a priory" aim of all conservation efforts. Protecting animals against the environment is a luxury reserved for people living in cities, which after all are the antithesis of the areas we are discussing here and this desire is best known as preservationism and is a discredited conservation option when discussed in formal scientific/management circles.

Many people in the safari industry and certainly most western people do not understand what is actually being conserved - it is not the animals - but the environment i.e. the biodiversity. The so-called "balance of nature" requires that successful species are somehow limited to return towards an equilibrium by preferably - natural means. However, as the world has "got smaller" and natural systems constrained - management of systems has become necessary - the only debate can then be - one of degree.

Therefore, the debate around wilderness management is not one of - should there be some management - the only issues are how much management and by which methods. Many people get lost in the side issues, which are always emotive - e.g. shooting of elephant. In my opinion Botswana has achieved the best balance between wilderness and management of any country in the world - this may be by accident but I choose to feel it is more by design. That is why Botswana is one of the top safari destinations in Africa and more importantly - will remain so.

What follows here are only facts - I will get back to the debate later in the article.

1. Northern Botswana (and the neighbouring countries) is a huge tract of unfenced wilderness totalling around 30 million ha. - or ten times the size of the Kruger National Park. The National Parks, Game Reserves and photographic areas total around 3.0 million ha or 10% of the area. Almost all of the balance of the land falls under the Controlled Hunting Area zoning. These 2 areas are again divided into the community and other areas. These areas total approx 18 million hectares of the region.

2. The vast majority of Northern Botswana is Mopane or similar scrub and not suitable or desirable for photo safaris. Only the sport and citizen hunters are prepared to utilize these remote and desolate areas between the flood plains and water courses. If not them then cattle farmers - as Mopane is good cattle country.

3. Botswana has implemented a unilateral no hunting policy within 10km from the Namibian border. Most of the CHA areas are further divided into exclusive photographic and hunting zones.

4. All the main safari countries in Africa, except Kenya, have hunting as a legitimate wildlife use option. Most of these other countries have much higher animal off takes than Botswana by any measure including total numbers, numbers per unit area etc.

5. All of these countries have less area under formal and informal conservation than Botswana.

6. Botswana is the size of Kenya, 75% of Zambia, 45% of South Africa, 70% of Namibia and 149% of Zimbabwe.

7. Botswana has 1/6th of the African elephant population - estimated at 130 000 animals, yet the hunting quota totals less than 100 animals or 0.00077% of the population.

8. Botswana's elephant population is growing fast 5% to 7.5% per annum depending on who is providing the figures - even at 5% the numbers will double again in 14.5 years and at 7.5% will double in a little over 9 years. Either way this is a problem.

9. The hunting quota in Botswana is divided into citizen hunting quota and sport hunting quota. The sport hunting quota and utilization is much less than the citizen hunting quota and is subject to much more stringent controls but has many more of the high visibility species such as elephant, buffalo, leopard etc. on this quota.

10. The community areas have double the elephant quota of the private sector areas in order to enable them to generate more short-term income and direct benefit.

11. No single photographic safari camp is more than 15km from the nearest hunting zone and the majority, including those in the National Parks and Game Reserves, are less than 10 km from the nearest hunting zones. Many are less than 2 km's from the nearest hunting camps/zones.

12. Almost all of the highly prized species viewed by photo safari guests are those desired as trophies by the sport hunters and almost all of these species have home ranges that cover more than 10km in any direction.

13. Professional and ethical hunting do not cause animals to react negatively to people or vehicles. Animal behaviour, and this has been documented scientifically, is more determined by the behaviour of the vehicles around the animals than by the sound of a shot. In other words, if vehicles do not disturb the animals then they tend to get used to them but if they drive fast or make a noise then the vehicles will disturb animals.

14. Lions are no longer on the hunting quota in Botswana. The former leopard quota has now been considerably reduced by spreading the same quota over all the new areas tendered and allocated in the past few years cutting the original CHA quotas from 6 to 2 per area.

15. Quotas for both citizen and sport hunting are assessed and reviewed annually based on game counts and other scientific data and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks controls the quotas.

16. The impact of hunting on individual animals is high and terminal but the environmental impact of a hunting camp is very low (camps are very small and operate for less than 6 months each year). Flying over a hunting camp shows very low local impact.

17. The impact of photo safaris is very low on the animals but much higher on the environment. These camps typically are larger, have more staff, are open all year, use more roads and generate more waste etc. Flying over a photo camp has a visible and obvious impact on the local environment.

What does this all mean?

The effect of hunting on animals and wildlife in Botswana is much less than certain vested interests would have us believe. Therefore, the safari industry should be educating our guests about the reality of life for remote rural communities and the potential consequences on job and food security and of a decline in income if the sport and citizen hunting of animals is banned or discouraged. This will not lead to an increase in conservation but pressure for the use of areas for cattle and subsistence agriculture. The economic law of "unintended consequences."

We should also promote the obvious benefits of photographic safaris too. However, if we attempted to get guests to enjoy endless hours of mopane scrub we would fail - somehow hunters manage to get their clients to enjoy this part of Botswana. Together the wilderness survives - one needs the other.

In the recent past years the level of interest by citizens of Botswana in "citizen hunting" has declined so much that what was a huge political issue in 1996 is hardly ever discussed now. The citizen hunting issue is now de-politicised due mainly to shifting demographics and economics. Cell phones and TV's and other modern conveniences have successfully competed for citizens spare time and hunting is no longer a high priority except for the very poor people in the remotest areas. Neither photo nor hunting safaris can take credit for this development - only the economic and political advancement of the country can.

However, many of the remote rural communities remain dependent on the land and it's resources and will for many years to come. These communities are seeking true empowerment that comes from personal responsibility for their own upliftment. The truth is that hunting businesses are a much simpler and are more - short term - profitable than photo safaris businesses are. This makes operating sport hunting safaris a better business for rural communities to indulge in. The government has recognised this and allocates bigger hunting quotas to these Community Areas. The hunters have, on average, managed to maintain better and more long-term positive relationships with the communities than the photo safari operators have. This is a consequence of the simpler, more comprehensible nature of the hunting business.

Photo safaris are not all good and hunting all evil. Both have a role to play in the continued conservation of Botswana's wildlife areas. Without one the other is poorer and therefore so would the local communities be poorer. If they are poorer the wildlife will be seen as having a nett negative cost to their lives and they will want them gone. Everyone loses! - example: Zimbabwe.

Therefore, striving for balance is what is required and the government of Botswana has done that admirably. They have set up guidelines within a coherent policy. What remains is for the interests of the local community to be served through the economics of the conservation and tourism efforts. Ultimately the balance between hunting and photo tourism will be decided by economics within a sensible national policy - together we all win! This is also an economic process and not an event to be switched on or off to suit the short-term business interests of any company.

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