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Traditional livestock farmers in Habu village have started to benefit from a communal herd project facilitated by Wild Entrust which places livestock and wild animals within that area in different grazing zones.
Wild Entrust is a non-governmental organisation that supports sustainable conservation and management through applied science, education and sustainable development.
The project, funded by a grant from the European Union enables Ngamiland farmers to access the Commodity Based Trade (CBT) beef markets. It mainly focuses on enclosing livestock in a zoning system that divide grazing land into two, allowing farmers to be in one area, wild animals in another area while a wildlife area acts as a buffer zone to help achieve co-existence which is one of the main objectives of the project.
Though farmers were initially reluctant to hand over their livestock to the care of eco-rangers under the project, those who participated were reportedly able to see their cattle being sold to Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) and also acquired international market rates which are significantly high.
Wild Entrust Co-Founder and Director Weldon Mcnutt told this publication that farmers were impressed by the project as they managed to sell their cattle at an international market price though they are within a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) red zone.
According to him, their first batch of 24 cattle was successfully sold on the 13th December 2022 after the cattle were inspected by the Department of Veterinary Services and thereafter taken straight to the Maun BMC abattoir.
Mcnutt said the project has benefited farmers as their cattle reached BMC abattoir without having gone through Makalamabedi quarantine where they usually incur feeding and other related costs.
He indicated that the project has also eliminated transportation costs from their actual area to the quarantine and to BMC, a challenge farmers faced for years in addition to the lower red zone market rates.
According to Mcnutt, the project is also about the livelihoods of the communities in that particular area. He noted that it puts more emphasis on enhanced benefits by locals from their traditional livelihoods.
“People in Habu are pastoralists and if we make their traditional livelihood viable and beneficial then they will benefit from wildlife and their livestock lifestyle, a move which we believe will reduce negative attitudes towards wildlife.” Mcnutt said.