Various policies in Botswana touch on wildlife conservation. These include sector specific policies on sustainable resource use such as the National Policy on Natural Resource Conservation and Development (1990), the Tourism Policy (1990), the Agriculture Policy (1991), the National Water Master Plan (1992), the National Settlement Policy (1998) and the Game Ranching Policy (2002). However, the Wildlife Conservation Policy of 1986 (WCP) is the main policy on wildlife conservation in Botswana. The key objective of the WCP is to encourage the development of a commercial wildlife industry that is viable on a long-term basis. The specific objectives of the WCP are to realise the full potential of the wildlife resource, to develop a commercial wildlife industry in order to create economic opportunities, jobs and incomes for the rural population and to increase the supply of meat as a consequence of the further development of wildlife commercial utilisation.
The WCP’s end goals are that wildlife should contribute to rural development, citizens should actively participate in wildlife management and utilization and the government should provide the necessary control of the wildlife industry. The government intends to meet these goals by adopting or introducing legislation which permits, encourages or monitors development of the wildlife industry. The government also intends to improve management and administration of wildlife resources through the WCP framework.
The WCP provides for either new or modified wildlife utilization activities which will expand benefits to communities. The utilization activities include trade, import and export of wildlife products. The WCP recognizes that Botswana is a party to the CITES convention. The policy statements on trade, import and export in wildlife and wildlife products observe the CITES requirements with regard to such trade. The policy also makes it clear that use of wildlife must be sustainable and the continuity of wildlife as a resource must be ensured through protection measures where appropriate.
The policy entrenches the system of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). WMAs are distinct from national parks and reserves in that strictly regulated licensed hunting is allowed in WMA’s while national parks and reserves are primarily preservation areas where hunting is not permitted. The WCP provides that Wildlife utilisation and management should be the recognized primary form of land use in a WMA and other forms of land use should only be allowed if compatible with wildlife. Wildlife utilisation plans in WMAs can include hunting, game ranching and farming, live capture, venison processing, and photographic safaris.
Another important policy in the conservation of wildlife in Botswana is the Game Ranching Policy (GRP) adopted in 2002. The GRP gives more detailed direction on the development of the game ranching industry in Botswana and gives implementation guidelines for the appropriate provisions of the Wildlife Conservation and National parks Act. The Policy aims to make game ranching an alternative and financially viable land use and to enhance sustainable utilisation of wildlife products. Some of the main objectives of the GRP are to increase economic returns from wildlife resources outside protected areas, to promote the development of a commercially viable game ranching industry, to maximise the role of the private sector in the development of game ranching and to promote the use of game ranches in the conservation of threatened and endangered species.