Yesterday, SCI CEO Laird Hamberlin welcomed the new Ambassador of Botswana to Washington DC – the Honorable Onkokame Kitso Mokaila. The Safari Club International Foundation was also represented by SCIF’s Conservation Director Dr. Chris Comer and Conservation Manager Joe Goergen.
Safari Club has enjoyed a productive relationship with Botswana and conversations about reopening the borders for international tourist hunting are ongoing. Botswana was set to re-open for international hunting this spring, however the global pandemic shutdown the season and delayed the tangible benefits hunting generates for wildlife conservation and rural communities. Many unknowns remain surrounding the prospect of a 2021 hunting season due to travel restrictions, but Botswana remains committed to fully implementing their new sustainable use wildlife management strategy.
Unfortunately, SCIF’s 18th African Wildlife Consultative Forum, originally scheduled to be hosted this fall by the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation, and Tourism, will now be virtual with plans for the 2021 event set for the city Kasane. Government officials from Botswana have a long history of actively voicing opposition to anti-hunting legislation in the U.S. Congress and state of California, and the nation is a strong voice for the Southern African Development Community at CITES. The President of Botswana – his Excellency, Mokgweetsi Masisi – was named SCI’s 2019 International Legislator of the Year in recognition of his commitment to lifting his nation’s hunting ban. It’s reassuring to know such a great nation is in good hands with an Ambassador committed to strengthening relationships that strengthen his nation’s conservation efforts.