Banning hunting for Bushmen in order to feed your family, but allowing the wealthy to hunt for trophies, plays to a lobby still rooted in racist beliefs about tribal peoples’ inferiority. The national park movement entailed the enforced eviction, often the complete destruction, of the tribes who lived off the land.

Bushmen Botswana can’t hunt, tourists can

Bushmen huntingBotswana banned hunting for Bushmen, but not for wealthy tourists. Even if the San people, as their official name is, feed their families with it, they are not permitted to hunt anymore. Without it they are at risk of starvation and part of their culture is lost.

Botswana banned all hunting nationwide, but an exception is being made for trophy hunters paying up to $8,000 to hunt giraffes and zebras. Wealthy tourists are being invited to travel to the country to hunt big game on private ranches that have been exempted from the ban. But Bushmen from Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve, who have hunted with spears, bows and arrows for millennia, are being arrested, beaten and jailed for hunting.

The ban openly flouts Botswana’s landmark high court ruling in 2006, which upheld the Bushmen’s right to hunt on their ancestral land in the reserve. Although some communities affected by the 2014 ban have been offered food parcels, the reserve’s Bushmen have been left to starve, without any assistance from the government. Perversely, the Botswana Tourism Organization uses images of hunting Bushmen to attract tourists, especially big game hunters.

The depth of meaning that hunting has for tribal peoples like the Bushmen was explained by Bushman leader Roy Sesana: ‘I grew up as a hunter. All our boys and men were hunters. Hunting is going and talking to the animals. You don’t steal. You go and ask. You set a trap or go with bow and spear. It can take days. You track the antelope. He knows you are there, he knows he has to give you strength. But he runs and you have to run. As you run, you become like him. It can last hours and exhaust you both. You talk to him and look into his eyes. And then he knows he must give you his strength so your children can live’.

More information on the San people or Bushmen is to be found here.
Survival International
is fighting for the rights of the San.

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