Several policy reforms have been made, and are under consideration, to Botswana’s wildlife sector that will serve the conservation and regional security interests of both Botswana and the United States.
PERC research fellow Catherine Semcer is weighing in on the potential reforms with a public comment submitted to the Department of the Interior’s International Wildlife Conservation Council.
These reforms, including the lifting of a ban on hunting, deserve the full support of the U.S. Department of Interior, its agencies, agencies of other departments, and Congress.
Unfortunately, these reforms are at risk of being undermined by a global popular outcry stemming from recent reports of mass elephant poaching in the Okavango River Delta. These reports, however, are now in dispute. What is not in dispute is that a half-decade of heavy-handed conservation policies in Botswana, including the 2014 ban on all hunting within the country, have created the kind of socioeconomic conditions where poachers are most likely to thrive, that poaching has increased under policies enacted under Botswana’s previous administration, and that policy reforms are warranted. The United States has at its disposal multiple strategic and regulatory tools to help Botswana restore the successful rights- and market-based conservation programs that the United States helped establish under previous administrations.