Chobe Councillors Seek Permanent Human-Wildlife Conflict Solutions

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Chobe councillors have called on the government to come up with a permanent solution to the long standing issue of human-wildlife conflict in the district that has over the years led to loss of human life and property.

This call was made in response to the human-wildlife conflict report that was presented by Chobe District Council Chairman Chimney Mululwani in his speech during the Full Council Session last week.

According to the report the district has recorded 148 incidents of human wildlife conflict for the period January and March 2023 mainly caused by elephants, lions and buffalo and these include cases in which two locals lost their lives due to buffalo attacks.

The report further states that as a collective, government has started to intensify holistic and integrated approaches to addressing human-wildlife conflict. One of the interventions was reported to be the debushing in some hotspots such as open areas and schools in the district.

Councillors however dismissed the debushing intervention as frivolous, and instead called for more serious and permanent strategies that would deal with the problem once and for all,

They categorically argued that some of such strategies would be application of the recommendations made in the Elephant Management Plan report, among them the installation of an electric fence and awarding of quotas for the hunting of problem animals that are roaming around the villages. These animals include elephants, buffalo, lions, cheetahs and wild dogs among others.

Kazungula Newstance Councillor, Simasiku Matengu has argued that debushing can never be a holistic approach to human-wildlife conflict, calling for implementation of permanent strategies because the issue was sensitive.

He stated that the recommendations made in the Elephant Management Plan and the Elephant Summit reports do not suggest debushing as a holistic approach to the issue but rather suggest installation of electric fence as key in minimising the movement of wild animals.

“We must try to install an electric fence from Lesoma to Sedudu gate so that we drive these wild animals to go straight to the river,” he said.

Specially elected Councillor, Paul Chabaesele noted that there is a need for implementation of permanent solutions that are backed up by scientific research. He stressed that some scientific research called for removal of certain animal corridors within the built up areas but that has been ignored.

“Though human-wildlife conflict is a great concern it seems like we only react when there is an incident, we have had this problem for many years but there have never been solutions, its high time we come up with permanent initiatives,” he said.

Chabaesele has called on the government to consider awarding quotas to the communities so that they can hunt the problematic animals that roam the villages because they are breeding at a high rate. He said that this would go a long way in decreasing the breeding rate of those animals including endangered species such as lions, leopards and wild-dogs.

Kasane Plateau Councillor, Boitumelo Kanyetu raised concern about shortage of resources at the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) as the issue impedes timely response to issues of human-wildlife conflict.

He noted that the DWNP camp is located in Lesoma village which is far and also lacks transport though it serves Kazungula, Kasane and Plateau. He stated that the Anti-Poaching Unit should also be permanently deployed in the Chobe area so that they can help in prevention of human-wildlife conflict.

Meanwhile, Chobe District Council Chairman Chimney Mululwani has told The Ngami Times in an interview that the issue of human-wildlife conflict in Chobe has been prevalent and severe for years, the approach to ending it permanently requires all stakeholders, adding that it has to be well thought out.

He said that there is a need for more research to be conducted so that proper strategies can be implemented. He indicated that there is work that is already being done by individual players, but said these needed to be coordinated.

Mululwani is view that the strategy to electrifying the villages as recommended may also come as a disadvantage, as it limits people’s movements as they go about their livelihoods.

He noted that it is important to promote human-wildlife coexistence and for the residents of Chobe to ensure that they are alert at all times because they live in wildlife area. With regards to shortage of resource at the Department of Wildlife and National Park (DWNP), Mululwani revealed that the Minister of Environment and Tourism Phildah Kereng has assured them that efforts will be made to secure transport and other resources for DWNP.

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