Human Wildlife Conflict Intensifies Due To Drought

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Okavango District Council chairman Gaopalelwe Ronald has revealed that farmers in his district have been hard hit by the ongoing drought which has led to wild animals, especially elephants encroaching further into human settlements in search of food and water.

Gaopalelwe indicated that they anticipate a spike in human wildlife conflict incidents in the district due to ongoing drought which has forced wild animals, especially elephants to move closer to human settlements searching for water and food.

He said that some farmers who had ploughed drought resistant crops such as water melons and cowpeas have left the ploughing fields empty handed due to elephants’ damage.

Consequently, molapo farmers, known for planting sorghum have also lost a battle of an infestation of quelea birds which have raided their fields.

With high poverty level, Ronald lamented that the prolonged dry spell and frequent heat waves may negatively affect the district and increase the number of destitutes as well as human wildlife conflicts cases.

Ronald has since called for an extension of the farm inputs subsidy further proposing for an increase of the subsidy from 30% to 50% in order to alleviate the effects on farmers.

For this financial year, Ronald indicated that the district was allocated a total amount of P5 540 000 for wildlife damage compensation which is currently ongoing.

In his previous full council meeting Ronald indicated that for the previous quarter, they received 368 cases of human wildlife conflict and problem animals. He noted that though they have a back log of payments, they managed to compensate 860 individuals this year.

He indicated that from the 2747 farmers who registered for Temo Letlotlo only 543 farmers managed to acquire seeds from Botswana Agricultural Board (BAMB) adding that no farmer has managed to acquire fence and fertilizers thorough the programme.

The Department of Metrological services forecasted a severe drought for 2023/24 season due to Elnino’s influence in the Southern hemisphere. The anticipated dry spell and high temperatures posed challenges in the Agricultural sector. 

Areas across the country registered temperatures exciding 40 degrees Celsius during peak periods. Other Southern African countries have not been spared from the Elnino as some recorded lower average of rainfall.

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