Hunting ban saps village’s livelihood
His murderers then poured boiling water in his ears and nostrils -- all of which happened on February 2, 1990, the day the apartheid regime announced it would release Nelson Mandela.
“While his executioners were killing him, Benedict was on his knees praying. He prayed until the last minute of his life,” according to father Andre Bohas, one of the initiators of the beatification process. He “is a model for all the people in Africa.” Virtually unknown when he died, Daswa’s fame grew throughout South Africa’s Catholic community, with villagers starting to commemorate the anniversary of his death. Following the beatification, his feast day will be celebrated annually on February 1.
Around eight percent of South Africa’s population is Catholic.
Pope Francis, who announced in January that Daswa would be beatified, paid tribute to the teacher in his regular Sunday address to the faithful in St Peter’s square.
“In his life he always showed great consistency, courageously defending Christian views and rejecting worldly and pagan customs,” the Argentinian pontiff said in Italian.
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa also attended the beatification ceremony, which came after an overnight vigil SANKUYO — Lions have been coming out of the surrounding bush, prowling around homes and a small health clinic, to snatch goats and donkeys from the heart of this village on the edge of one of Africa’s great inland deltas. Elephants, too, are becoming frequent, unwelcome visitors, gobbling up the beans, maize and watermelons that took farmers months to grow.
Since Botswana banned trophy hunting two years ago, remote communities like Sankuyo have been at the mercy of growing numbers of wild animals that are hurting livelihoods and driving terrified villagers into their homes at dusk.
The hunting ban has also meant a precipitous drop in income. Over the years, villagers had used money from trophy hunters, mostly Americans, to install toilets and water pipes, build houses for the poorest, and give scholarships to the young and pensions to the old.
Calls to curb trophy hunting across Africa have risen since a lion in Zimbabwe, named Cecil by researchers tracking it, was killed in July by an American dentist. Several airlines have stopped transporting trophies from hunts, and lawmakers in New Jersey have introduced legislation that would further restrict their import into the United States.
But in Sankuyo and other rural communities living near the wild animals, many are calling for a return to hunting. African govern-
staged by thousands of followers.
‘Ultimate price of martyrdom’ “May this day be the day when we say ritual killings must come to an end, witch hunts must come to an end,” said Ramaphosa.
Daswa’s eight children — including one born a few months after his death — sat in the front at the ceremony, alongside their 91-year-old grandmother Ipa.
“Proud is an understatement to describe what I feel,” said Mutshiro Michael (33) one of Daswa’s sons, adding he had forgiven his father’s murderers.
Traditional performers from the local Venda people dressed in colourful striped outfits ments have also condemned, some with increasing anger, Western moves to ban trophy hunting.
“Before, when there was hunting, we wanted to protect those animals because we knew we earned something out of them,” said Jimmy Baitsholedi Ntema, a villager in his 60s. “Now we don’t benefit at all from the animals. The elephants and buffaloes leave after destroying our plowing fields during the day. Then, at night, the lions come into our kraals.”
In early 2014, this sparsely populated nation became one of a few sang and danced ahead of the mass.
From Saturday night, priests, nuns and Catholics from across the country were draped in blankets and packed a dusty road leading to a shrine dedicated to Daswa, singing hymns.
It is a unique moment, I feel overwhelmed,” said Tsholanang Koketso, 23, who travelled from the Limpopo provincial capital Polokwane to attend the mass.
“We always hear about saints in other countries but now we (will) have one in South Africa. It’s very nice.”
Father John Finn, who buried Daswa, described him as “a man of incredible generosity.” African countries with abundant wildlife to put an end to trophy hunting, the practice at the core of conservation efforts in southern Africa. President Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana, a staunch defender of animal rights, stated that hunting was no longer compatible with wildlife conservation and urged communities like Sankuyo to switch to photographic tourism. The decision was cheered by animal welfare groups in the West.
But Botswana is an outlier. Government officials and conservationists in most African countries
“He was always bringing people to hospitals, taking care of children and elders. He had a great value for education.”
The beatification comes less than three months ahead of Pope Francis’s first visit to Africa in a push to connect with the burgeoning Catholic population across the continent.
The pontiff will be travelling to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic in late November.
In Uganda, Francis will commemorate the canonisation by pope Paul VI in 1964 of the first African saints — 22 young people killed in 1878 on the orders of the local ruler because they refused to renounce their Christian faith. — AFP staunchly support trophy hunting, including Zambia, which is going back to hunting after a short-lived suspension.
“Zambia has always hunted from time immemorial,” Jean Kapata, Zambia’s minister of tourism, said in a phone interview. “Zambia is a sovereign nation, and therefore people should respect the rules we have in our country.”
Zambia recently lifted a two-yearold ban on hunting leopards, and lion hunting is likely to resume next year. In 2013, Zambia curbed trophy hunting and imposed a blanket ban on hunting the big cats, also in an effort to replace trophy hunting with photographic tourism.
But that brought little income compared to hunting, Ms. Kapata said, while lions increasingly stalked villages for livestock. During the hunting ban, a local councilor was killed by a lion, she said.
“We had a lot of complaints from local communities,” Ms. Kapata said. “In Africa, a human being is more important than an animal. I don’t know about the Western world,” she added, echoing a complaint in affected parts of Africa that the West seemed more concerned with the welfare of a lion in Zimbabwe than of Africans themselves.
Zambia’s quick reversal points to the central role that trophy hunting has played in managing wildlife in southern Africa, where the industry’s emergence in the 1960s helped
restore degraded habitats and revive certain species.
In South Africa, the biggest market, hunting occurs on private game ranches. But in the rest of the region, it takes place mostly on communal lands where villages like Sankuyo are supposed to receive a cut of the fees paid by trophy hunters.
Sankuyo, a village of around 700 people, sits just east of the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana, which has one of the richest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. In 1996, Sankuyo signed on to a community-based natural resources program that focused on hunting and was supported by the United States government.
In 2010, Sankuyo earned nearly $600,000 from the 120 animals — including 22 elephants, 55 impalas and nine buffaloes — that it was allowed to offer to trophy hunters that year, said Brian Child, an associate professor at the University of Florida, who is leading a study on the impact of the ban. Botswana’s wildlife officials, who set the annual quotas, last allowed a lion to be hunted in Sankuyo in 2006.
Among the benefits to the community, 20 households chosen by lottery received outdoor toilets, all painted in pastel colors that stand out in a village turned brown in the dry season. Standpipes were installed in courtyards, connecting 40 families to running water.
“That’s what made people appreciate conservation,” said Gokgathang Timex Moalosi, 55, Sankuyo’s chief. “We told them, ‘ That lion or elephant has paid for your toilet or your standpipe.’ ” — NY Times
elephants have become frequent and unwelcome visitors in Sankuyo, Botswana.