In order to address the rampant human-wildlife conflict cases in Ngamiland the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DNWP) has been urged to adopt research based methods and work with reputable researchers to tackle the situation.
The conflict has remained a challenge, prompting the department to host a mini pitso in Maun this week which is a build up for the main event to be held in Gaborone where various stakeholders will participate on ways to mitigate human wildlife conflict.
Speaking during the pitso, Wild Entrust Senior Research Officer John Neelo urged DWNP to bring in and engage a vigorous research team within the department which he advised should entail researchers from various fields including agriculture. Neelo believes the team will be able to come up with ways to address the severe implications that come with human wildlife conflict to the communities’ livelihoods among other things.
He further noted that through researchers, DNWP will be proactive in addressing the root cause of the conflict, instead being reactive after the damage and having to pay compensation which at times come late and anger communities even more.
Kgosi Oateng Setlhodi of Chanoga also shared the same sentiments, highlighting that with government’s reset agenda DNWP should come up with something new that may be effective when it comes to issues of human-wildlife conflict.
He noted that the department can win war against human wildlife conflict should it prioritise research when dealing with these issues, giving an instance of Tawana Land Board (TLB) where they recently engaged a non-governmental organisation to mark and survey elephant corridors across the eastern panhandle before land allocation to avoid issuing communities land located in the corridors.
“That was a great move by TLB, we expect DNWP to be doing the same and fully engage researchers because they will be solving the issues from the roots. We have to focus on avoiding the conflict instead of focusing on issuing compensations and responding to cases,” Setlhodi advised.
He further pleaded that as the horticulture sector in Botswana continues to grow, the crop compensation plan should also be reviewed as farmers have now advanced to planting new crops to meet the demand.
“This has contributed to a lot of horticultural farmers having more conflict with wild animals especially elephants as they destroy crops and farmers are never compensated because they are not included in the compensation schedule,” Setlhodi emphasized.
Meanwhile DNWP Deputy Director Botshelo Makunde noted that they are currently conducting awareness campaigns across the districts to promote human wildlife co-existence adding that they also conduct patrols in areas where there are threats.
Makunde noted that the main objective of the pitso was to bring together various stakeholders that are affected by the conflict to devise strategies on how the department will deal with them. He acknowledged non-governmental organisations for their continued efforts to address the human-wildlife conflict in Ngamiland.