A sustainable strategy to mitigate the ban of hunting on local communities in Botswana
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Wildlife tourism is a component of the tourism industry which has experienced growing demand in certain regions of the world. There are various sub-components within the sector which represent specific interests, of which hunting tourism is one. In Botswana, hunting tourism has been practiced over the years and in 1995 became one of the natural resource utilization avenues that drove Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programmes. Hunting helped accrue revenue for communities until 2014 when the government of Botswana imposed a ban on the practice. The ban resulted in loss of income and employment for the communities. The aim of the study was to formulate a sustainable strategy to mitigate the ban of hunting on rural communities. Therefore, five objectives were formulated to drive the aim. The first objective was to conduct a critical literature analysis on the contextualization of hunting tourism in Botswana. The literature revealed that hunting tourists are classified in a variety of ways, that the sector has both negative and positive impacts and that there are various management frameworks that are used to manage hunting as well as the broader wildlife tourism segment. This objective was achieved in Chapter 2 of the thesis. The second objective was to analyse literature on the sustainable development of tourism. The analysis demonstrated that, sustainable tourism is guided by principles that strive to strike a balance between economic, environmental and socio-cultural elements. However, to achieve this balance between the triple bottomlines, various tools are used to sustain development of tourism. The second objective was achieved in Chapter 3. The third objective was to conduct a critical analysis of literature on Community-Based Tourism (CBT). The analysis revealed that there was a link between sustainable tourism and CBT as they share aspirations of community participation, economic benefits and conservation of resources. The literature also demonstrated that, CBT projects that were deemed successful presented certain factors which defined their success. These were participation in decision-making, capacity building, economic viability and benefits sharing. Furthermore, nine models of CBT development were reviewed, which revealed core aspects prevalent within the models. These aspects included a determination of a development approach (bottom-up/top-down), a phase to plan for certain aspects of development such as collaboration, setting agreed goals and community participation as well as making a choice of a CBT venture type. The objective was achieved in Chapter 4. The fourth objective was to present empirical results on effects of hunting ban on communities and conservation. The objective was achieved in Chapter 6. The fifth objective was to draw conclusions and make recommendations for the study which was achieved in Chapter 7. The achievement of all the objectives also facilitated the formulation of the strategy to mitigate the ban of hunting. The study utilised a qualitative action research design called ‘action science’. This design allowed the study to harness the subjects’ knowledge for action in the form of an actionable strategy to address the problem. The participants in the study were drawn from five populations; the community, community trust, former hunting employees, businesses and public organisations. The participants were drawn from two communities; Sankuyo village (located in northern Botswana) and Mmadinare (located in the east of Botswana). The communities were selected due to their prior participation in hunting tourism before the ban as well as their close proximity to major urban centres for ease of access. The study then used a key informant strategy within the purposive sampling method to select Community trust leaders (n=3) and one (n=1) participant from a public tourism organisation. A snowball sampling method was also used to select four (n=4) former hunting employees and two (n=2) businesses. Community members (n=46) were also selected for participation through quota and convenient sampling methods. Two qualitative data collection instruments were used. A structured interview instrument was used to collect data from community members, while a semi-structured interview schedule was used to collect data from the rest of the other participants in the study. The data was analysed using thematic, descriptive statistics and cross-tabulation analysis methods. The results revealed that hunting tourism benefited various sections of the communities during the time when it was practiced. The trusts accrued revenue that was used in community projects, community members employed by hunting operators developed skills, craft traders expanded their product range due to use of animal by-products and community members benefited through financial dividends, sale of game meat and employment. These tangible benefits, were considered factors responsible for the success of hunting tourism along with community participation. Nevertheless, hunting tourism also presented challenges as observed by participants. There was lack of expertise in pricing quotas of wildlife resources across various stakeholders involved in hunting. Furthermore, hunting tourism availed limited employment opportunities as few community members were needed to serve few tourists in hunting camps. This also meant that businesses (craft traders) had few potential clients to market their products to which culminated in low income. The results of the study further revealed that reasons for the ban of hunting as given by government authorities were doubted by participants mainly because there was lack of consultation and they viewed the reasons given as inconsistent. However, the study revealed that there are numerous challenges experienced since the ban of hunting. Communities are experiencing an increase in wildlife numbers which lead to an escalation of the Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) and destruction of raw material used by craft traders. The communities further bemoan lack of involvement in decision making owing to an increase in bureaucratic challenges and there is also loss of revenue, regulatory impediments and problems in the relationship with current ecotourism operators in Sankuyo where ecotourism is practiced. Therefore, to address these challenges, the results demonstrates that there is need to improve management of HWC, lift the ban of hunting, increase tourism products using available natural and cultural resources and allowing communities to operate their own facilities. A strategy was also formulated to mitigate the ban and address the challenges. The strategy advocates for an enabling environment to be created for the recommendations to be effective. There is need for funding to be availed, community trusts to be resourced by good calibre of trustees, embrace a bottom-up approach in Community-Based Tourism (CBT) management, improve infrastructure and capacitate community trust members with marketing and management skills. In conclusion, the study made both literature and practical contribution through the formulation of a mitigation strategy. The strategy advices on the facilitation process of CBT projects from planning to making product choices. The strategy also advocates for normalisation of the CBT operating environment by addressing conditions that enable for such. Furthermore, the contribution to literature highlighted that there are core aspects in CBT development models which are central and critical to the success of CBT projects.