BOTSWANA WILDLIFE CRISIS? GMFER PETITIONS GOVERNMENT FOR ANSWERS
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Botswana is one of the shining lights of Africa, a country that after fifty years of independence enjoys economic and political stability. Although Botswana is completely landlocked, its two rivers the Okavango Delta and the Chobe River serve as a boundary to an abundance of wildlife.
A successful African landscape is one where humans and wildlife can live and flourish together without fear or trepidation. The spaces required by both humans and animals should be protected. Africa has experienced years of exponential human population growth and mass expansions of industry. Vice President of Botswana Mr Slumber Tsogwane has said that human wildlife conflict was rife especially in the Boteti constituency where large numbers of elephants roamed freely in marginal range lands, he admits that the increase in human population in this area has contributed to the problem.
On the 21st June 2018 the Botswana Parliament adopted a motion, which was tabled by Mr Kostantinos Markus, requesting that the government consider the lifting the ban on the trophy hunting of elephants in areas that are not designated game reserve areas or national parks.
According to Mr Slumber Tsogwane it has become a real challenge to balance the relationship between wildlife and agricultural production. The elephant population, he said, has affected the land conservation because the elephant over graze and destroy the natural landscape.
Botswana has the highest number of elephants in Africa. One of the reasons for this is because of the tight protection that Botswana has offered elephants and because of the increase of poaching of elephants in neighbouring countries.
The Linyanti area of Botswana was once a hunting concession, over the past fourteen years only photographic tourism has been offered and elephants have started to move back to this area of Botswana. The Okavango Delta experiences high concentrations of elephant due to the permanent water source, the Chobe National Park also has a high number of elephant.
The elephants have changed the landscape of places like Chobe River from thick woodland to open plains and as elephants move to the permanent water areas during the dry season the vegetation takes a hammering. Sadly there are growing instances of loss of life from elephant and human conflict. Mr Markus has said that ignoring human wellbeing to achieve conservation goals is morally wrong.
Mr Samson Guma noted that the farmers living along the Botswana Zimbabwe border have struggled for years with elephants invaded their land and destroyed their crops. The competition between elephants and humans for resources had intensified in this area.
GMFER does not underestimate the challenges that the communities face living alongside some of the world’s largest wildlife populations. We also realize the importance of wildlife tourism and our hope is that the communities in these rural areas are indeed benefitting from this wildlife tourism.
We need to reconcile the needs of the elephant and the humans. We need to urgently explore mechanisms other than trophy hunting to alleviate the problem of human and wildlife conflict.
MEDIA REPORTS ARE CIRCULATING THAT THERE IS WIDESPREAD ELEPHANT AND RHINO POACHING TAKING PLACE IN BOTSWANA. Reports also suggest that the anti-poaching units have been relieved of their weapons and are therefore unarmed and unable to protect themselves or the wildlife of Botswana.
THE GLOBAL MARCH FOR ELEPHANTS AND RHINOS hereby asks you to join our polite petition to the BOTSWANA GOVERNMENT to show our unified support of Botswana and her people.
We ask that every consideration may be taken to avoid the lifting of the Elephant Trophy Hunting Ban and that the anti-poaching units protecting Botswana’s elephant and rhino populations are armed correctly and fully supported.
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