Value Chain Industries For Elephant Population Management


  • Prof Mbaiwa propose elephants, buffaloes’ abattoirs

Hunting and mortality rate alone cannot help reduce the high elephant’s population that Botswana currently has, and this necessitates that other alternatives be employed, like the development of value chain industries to help manage the numbers.

This are the views of Professor Joseph Mbaiwa of the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute (ORI) during the handing over of an office space to Okavango Human & Wildlife Conflict Foundation (OHWCF) by Camp Logic in Maun recently.

Mbaiwa expressed that according to the 2022 Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) Elephant Survey Report, Botswana holds around 132,000 elephants with 58 % of the animals in Southern Africa being found in the country.

“Elephants multiply at a rate of about 7.2% annually and their mortality rate is low so it cannot do anything to their population. In 1984 we had about 30 000 elephants in Botswana but today the numbers have gone very high,” Mbaiwa emphasised.

He added that even hunting cannot do any harm to the elephant numbers as it contributes a small insignificant percentage.

“The question is how do we manage these elephants, is it not the time that maybe we could be talking about developing value chain industries as part of managing them,” Mbaiwa said suggesting for the establishment an abattoir of non-endangered wild animals such as elephants and buffaloes in Maun. Mbaiwa suggested that processed meat from the abattoir can be sold to communities at a cheaper price.

He highlighted that the same used to happen in South Africa, Kruger National Park where elephants and buffaloes were slaughtered for sale while some of the meat was donated to adjacent schools. The abattoir was established for the proper management of problematic animals and also for research purposes. It was equipped to produce fresh meat products such as steaks and sausages for local consumption.

Also as part of the value chain, the professor added that the slaughtered animals’ byproducts such as the skin can also be used to manufacture valuables like shoes, clothes and belts among others.

Meanwhile Mbaiwa noted that human-wildlife conflict and conservation of natural resources are stakeholder issues that all-being government, private sector and communities should be involved in.

“All these stakeholders are participants when it comes to these issues and as participants we need to be seen to be working together. We might be having our own differences and perspectives on how things should be done but when it comes to the conflict itself, all of us should seat down and see how we can manage these elephants,” He emphasised.


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