Thursday, 26 February 2015

News Release: “Botswana Hunting Ban is Interrupting Our Lives and Culture”

 Jumanda Gakelebone

Representative of the Right Livelihood Award recipient, the First People of the Kalahari, Jumanda Gakelebone, is traveling from Botswana to South Africa to participate in a symposium on wildlife crime inMuldersdrift from February 26 to 28.

The symposium is organized by, among others, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and aims to evaluate under what circumstances community based interventions are successful in combating the illegal use and trade of wildlife. Gakelebone will reveal at the symposium how the hunting ban and law enforcement in Botswana affect the San indigenous people in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR). He also plans to meet with other San communities in South Africa.

Prior to the symposium, Gakelebone, British human rights lawyer Gordon Bennett and a campaigner with human rights organization Survival International (Right Livelihood Award 1989), will host a press conference onThursday February 26 at the Ascot Hotel in Johannesburg to shed light on the impact that ‘conservation’ policies have had on indigenous communities around the world.

In Botswana, the indigenous San people have been accused of ‘poaching’ when they hunt for food on their ancestral lands in the CKGR. President Khama imposed a nation-wide hunting ban in 2014, winning praise from international conservation organizations. Private game ranches are exempt from the hunting ban.

“Hunting is a source of food for the San people, and their welfare is very much connected to hunting and gathering. By stopping the hunting, they are interrupting our culture,” said Gakelebone. “If my own government cares about democracy, then it should create options for people to survive. They are not even providing services to these communities. How are they supposed to live? Forcing another tribe to live like you is racial discrimination.”

Almost ten years ago, the San people of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve won a historic legal case against the government allowing them to remain on their ancestral land. However, living off the land has become extremely difficult. In 2014, Survival International released a report detailing hundreds of cases of beatings, arrests and abuses suffered by the San in Botswana at the hands of wildlife officers and police.

“Africa’s last hunting Bushmen are accused of 'poaching' because they hunt their food and they face arrest and beatings, while fee-paying big game hunters are encouraged,” said Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International. “Tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world. They should not be criminalized for hunting to feed their families.”

Survival International has called the hunting ban hypocritical: the CKGR lies in the middle of the richest diamond producing area in the world and in January 2015, the first diamonds mined from the CKGR went on sale.

The press conference will be held on Thursday, February 26 at the Ascot Hotel in Johannesburg from 9 - 11am. For interviews or to attend the press conference, please contact: Rebecca Spooner at press@survivalinternational. org  or +27 741 457 446

Zahra Moloo 

Press Consultant for Africa
Right Livelihood Award Foundation
Box 15072
104 65 Stockholm

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