* UK Lords start month-long debate on Trophy Hunting Bill * Cruise, an extremist animal rights group waging campaign against leading Southern African countries - BWPA * 22 Lords sympathetic to Botswana case * KAZA aerial survey indicates hunting quota is less than 0.003 percent of population

Adam Cruise, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, has since escalated his smear campaign of Botswana Tourism to the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.

In his concerted campaign, Cruise is calling on the Lords to pass the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill. Most bizarre is that on Monday night in one of his interviews, Cruise was quoted as having compared “trophy hunting to apartheid” in his appeal to peers to support a crackdown on imports of “animal heads and carcasses”.

Reports from the UK indicate that the Bill returned to the Lords on Tuesday for a month-long debate at committee stage.

This is the same institution to which the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Philda Kereng recently appealed, beseeching the 22 Lords to understand Botswana’s unique position.

Cruise started his campaign through a report titled 'Trophy hunting in Botswana: A tale of declining wildlife, corruption exploitation and impoverishment' that was released last week.

However, the report has come under heavy criticism from local and international experts including the Botswana Wildlife Producers Association (BWPA) who state that Cruise's talk about unethical hunting practises in the industry are “totally unfounded”.

BWPA held its board meeting on Monday and immediately issued a public statement saying that the majority of Professional Hunters in Botswana are their members and all their operations are governed by a Code of Conduct and Ethics which they sign and abide by.

“Any transgressions that are reported to the Association are dealt with and disciplinary action taken”. Further that, the Department of Wildlife is also empowered under the Act to take action against anyone who violates the provisions of the Hunting Regulations.

If there is any information about any unethical or illegal behaviour it can be reported to any Law Enforcement Agencies in the country for follow up.

The statement reads, "BWPA is disappointed by a recent report authored by an Environmental Investigative Journalist and academic animal rights campaigner who unfortunately does not follow established principles of professional journalism."

Further, that Cruise belongs “to an extremist animal rights group that has been waging a campaign against the leading Southern African countries that rely upon safari hunting for their conservation platforms”.

In 2022 a similar report which was anti-sustainable utilisation of wildlife resources in Botswana, was also published and responded to.

The statement further reads that apart from lack of verification of the information being reported on, “the paper is largely cherry picking, false statements and unsupported slander. At the best it is unbalanced, false and misleading.”

Botswana is a free and democratic country, capable of managing her own resources without outside interference. The country manages its resources for the economic development of its people and the improvement of the livelihoods for her people.

Resources referred to include wildlife which are in abundance in the country. It is not by chance that the country has so many wildlife resources roaming around. The people of Botswana have taken a deliberate decision to manage wildlife for future generations.

That is why the country has set aside about 40 percent of the total area for wildlife conservation. These comprise Protected Areas, Forest Reserves and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s) where sustainable utilisation is practised - be it in the form of photographic tourism and safari hunting or subsistence hunting.

On the issues of CBNRM, Botswana has taken a decision to utilise the natural resources of this country, sustainably for the betterment of the livelihoods of the people of Botswana.

CBNRM is a tool for rural development and improvement of the lives of the people who live on a day-to-day basis with the animals that they have taken such great care of and managed diligently.

Tourism hunting has contributed significantly to the CBNRM Programme through partnerships with the Community Based Organisations.

BWPA says the information used in Cruise’s report is outdated and unreliable and accuse him of even having misquoted published information in some cases.

For example, he has falsely reported that safari hunting has impoverished communities even though it is well established in several peer reviewed papers that the opposite is true. The figures quoted for the household benefits are far from the actual figures on the ground.

BWPA states that on the issue of elephant hunting and indeed all hunting processes in Botswana, this was reinstated in 2019 (but started in 2021 due to COVID) after thorough consultations with the people of Botswana, who have made enormous sacrifices to protect the wildlife resources that have now become a centre of attraction from the people that have been unable to manage their own wildlife.

Countrywide consultations were conducted and a majority of the people were in favour of the reintroduction of hunting. The hunting quota for elephants, which has been less than 400 CITES approved is very conservative.

Based on the recently released KAZA aerial survey results, the quota is less than 0.003 percent of the population. Any scientist can tell you that this is an extremely conservative quota, BWPA stated.

It said the allegation disregards the fact that Botswana only utilises a part of the allocated elephant quota and that this quota is supported by state-of-the-art non-detriment findings and much more.

Botswana’s leopard quota is a similar scenario, having been recently re-approved by CITES.

“If Mirror article is anything to go by, Cruise appears to be stressed that the Lords are likely not to turn down the Bill. The Mirror states that the legislation, led by Conservative backbench MP Henry Smith, would block hunting tourists importing animal skins, severed heads and carcasses to Britain after shoots abroad. But supporters fear opponents will try and torpedo the legislation as it progresses through the Lords this month.

“There’s a whole suite of amendments that have been tabled and none of them are really helpful to the Bill, they are all wrecking amendments,” Cruise said.

"Peers need to vote the Bill through, as it stands, to the next stage. This is a Bill that has gone through the Commons and is watertight in so many respects.”

In his bid to stop hunters from bringing home "their sick" souvenirs, Cruise said the blood sport was dominated by white men who flew to mainly African countries to pursue their hobby on land owned by rich white people, while the pastime failed to benefit local black people.

The South Africa-based Cruise further blasted the “falsehood that trophy hunting benefits communities through conservation”, insisting that it seems to carry on the same notion of apartheid.

“Far from benefiting the lives of indigenous people and rural communities, trophy hunting activities trap them in a never-ending cycle of impoverishment and social disenfranchisement reminiscent of the South African apartheid era.

“It’s a notion of a white elite making a lot of money owning private land at the expense of black minority groups. The only benefit that some people of colour are getting is they get employment.

“But the employment ratio is so small - a tiny proportion, it’s only a few trackers and skinners - the majority of the community don’t get any benefit from trophy hunting.”

He hit out at the justification for “allowing wealthy, foreign hunters the right to shoot endangered wildlife – and bring their trophy home – that the funds generated from the hunts are essential for the economic and social upliftment of indigenous people and rural communities.

He said “This worn-out narrative, which is a product of the immediate post-colonial era of the 1970s in Africa when white trophy hunters needed to gloss over the continuance of an outdated colonial practice, is a false one.

“This is not only because communities never benefit from the proceeds, but it forces them to remain in a perpetual cycle of impoverishment and social disenfranchisement”.