THE EDITOR: The 2023/2024 hunting season commences on October 1 and ends on February 29, 2024. From September 18 the Forestry Division started issuing hunting permits allowing hunters to hunt on state lands. This open season is the designated time period in which certain game animals can be hunted in certain designated areas.
During the closed season, March to September, the animals are allowed to breed and repopulate their species, with laws imposing severe fines for anyone found hunting illegally during the closed season.
There are two types of hunters, namely, subsistence hunters and sport hunters. Subsistence hunters hunt for the sale of their catch, which in most cases provide financial income for individuals and their families, whereas sport hunters hunt primarily for leisure.
A large percentage of hunters own dogs trained for hunting and the open season gives these dogs that were locked in kennels during the closed season the long awaited opportunity to stretch their legs.
There have been less reports of illegal hunting during this past closed season. Credit must be given to the Forestry Division for their vigilance along with the regulations and fines they have imposed on anyone who breaches the law. There were staff increases relating to game wardens and they carried out regular patrols both day and night, deterring poachers from venturing into the forests.
Hunters with licensed firearms are presently experiencing problems with the availability of ammunition/cartridges on the market. The regular suppliers are out of stock and complaining of not been granted licences to import. The limited suppliers with stock have increased their prices drastically, encouraging price gouging. We hope the relevant authorities look into this matter.
Also, shotgun applicants are eagerly awaiting responses and we trust those in charge of the process are making efforts to work on pending applications.
Hunters are conservationist too. Revenues gained from the sale of hunting permits assist the Forestry Division with some of their conservationist programmes and maintenance of a healthy ecosystem. Hunting also keeps the population of certain species in check; overpopulation could have adverse effects on farmers as well as changing the dynamics of the forests.
For years, hunters and their groups have been involved in tree-planting exercises deep in forested areas, ensuring animals have future food supplies. Most hunters won’t kill an animal that isn’t mature. Hunters need and depend on nature animals and this means as long as there are hunters, nature will be preserved.
As hunters prepare for the start of the open season, we urge them to continue practising their sport with the same discipline and dignity of the past. Let us continue to use hunting as an opportunity to aid conservation efforts.