Gone are the days of seasonally focused employment of a handful of locals and distributing a few pieces of protein-rich game meat.
This development approach is unfair to African hunting communities who suffer from the socio-economic costs of coexistence with wildlife. They deserve ongoing investments and life changing benefits from the safari hunting companies operating in their areas.
It is the message of change that rings loud as a saving gunshot in Kill the shepherd; a powerful new documentary. He urges safari hunting companies to consider a human rights-based approach to development supported by ongoing investments in African hunting communities.
The whole world will be taken online to Zambia’s remote and wildlife-rich community, in the documentary Kill the shepherd, from November 27, 2021; to discover a new human rights-based rural development path that a progressive local safari hunting company decided to take.
At the head of this human rights-focused rural development course is a man who has a continuing interest in using international income from hunting to protect the environment and the rights of rural indigenous communities by ensuring a partnership. long term with the kingdom of Shikabeta. His long-term commitment to rural development lies in his wish to die and be buried by villagers in a rural community where he risked permanent investment and prosperity.
He learned about wildlife conservation from his father, a former officer in Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management. This sparked Roland Norton’s dream of being a safari hunting operator in a remote rural community of Lower Luano, in the kingdom of Shikabeta. Although his dream encountered significant obstacles, he overcame them.
Today, he has established a large, permanent safari hunting camp that blends in well with the surroundings. One of the biggest ever seen in Africa. Almost like a mini town.
Beautiful to see but difficult to build. It took Norton’s big personal financial risk to make this happen for him and the kingdom of Shikabeta where he now operates and creates much-needed rural development jobs and opportunities.
They range from building three new schools, two clinics, roads, a pavilion for community events, a church, kraals to protect goats, drilling boreholes and purchasing hammer mills.
The socio-economic and political environment for such a large and permanent safari hunting business to thrive in the Shikabeta Kingdom was created by the most unlikely person. She can be rightly described as Zambia’s Iron Lady of Community Development, Wildlife and Environmental Conservation – Her Royal Highness Chief Shikabeta. She fiercely propelled her ambitious mission, rejecting male cultural norms, to eliminate poachers and create opportunities for socio-economic development by bringing safari hunting operators such as the Nortons to the Kingdom of Shikabeta.
She successfully negotiated with the Zambian government to bring international hunting back to the kingdom of Shikabeta. The kingdom of Shikabeta is described in Kill the shepherd like, one of the most remote parts of the country where some people run away from a white man because they have never seen one. Shot by American filmmaker Tom Opre for 100 days in the kingdom of Shikabeta, Kill the shepherd is more about human rights than hunting. It has won numerous awards for best indigenous film, on social issues and human rights, among others; Docs Without Borders Film Festival, Hollywood International Diversity Film Festival, Wildlife Conservation Film Festival (NYC), Cannes World Film Festival and Toronto Independent Film Festival.
These awards, awarded by festivals around the world, give the film specific credibility on the social issues front. “It was on fire,” said a US-based teacher with a black African heritage and highly respected in downtown African-American neighborhoods, John Annoni of Camp Compass who had the privilege of watching Kill the shepherd ahead of its online premiere this month. “When I say it was fire, I mean it was good.
Meanwhile, Opre said the narrative of safari hunting or any hunting “must change.” His desire is to give voice to indigenous rural communities around the world. “This [safari hunting] cannot be a question of dollars spent and acres saved, ”he said. “It has to be about people who live with wildlife. If they don’t see a benefit to their demanding work of nature and habitat conservation, it will all work towards extinction of the Dodo bird. And all of these ignorant modern-day people and “benevolent” animal rights groups are the biggest enemies of these proud rural communities. “
- Emmanuel Koro is an award-winning, independent environmental journalist based in Johannesburg who writes extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.