Hunt­ing ban saps vil­lage’s liveli­hood

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

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.

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