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President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said country wide consultations on human wildlife conflict unearthed concerns from Batswana that government should develop alternative methods of compensation. This as communities living with wildlife have for years decried the low compensation rates from government.
In his state of the nation address this week, Masisi revealed that from the consultations government was in the process of drafting some interventions which will be completed by the end of the current financial year.
He said as part of his government’s efforts to reduce human wildlife conflict, elephant proof fences were being constructed.
“According to the 2022 Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) wide elephant survey, the estimated 64 elephant population within the region is two hundred and twenty-seven thousand and nine hundred (227,900). Out of this number, the Botswana’s elephant population is approximately one hundred and thirty-one thousand nine hundred and nine (131,909), which is about 58 percent.
That notwithstanding, we will continue to work with other nations within the Kavango – Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area on the management of wildlife. Government has therefore, pledged to donate eight thousand (8000) elephants to Angola. With such a large population of elephants, there will always be a high likelihood of incidences of human-wildlife conflict.
It is concerning that a total of eleven thousand three hundred and ten (11,310) incidents were reported in 2022, while nine thousand, four hundred and ninety-seven (9,497) incidences were reported between January and September 2023.
As part of our efforts to reduce human-wildlife conflicts and increase community benefits from sustainable wildlife utilisation, the 2023 hunting quota introduced a new category that allows inclusion of leopards and elephants within agricultural extension areas beginning with the Serowe District. Elephants are among the ‘problem animal’ quotas for the 2023 hunting season. Additional species will be added to these ‘problem animal’ quotas during the 2024 hunting season.
Furthermore, Government continues to construct elephant-proof fences in hotspot areas. This includes two hundred and twenty-five (225) km of non-lethal electric fence along the Makgadikgadi National Park boundary. The Tuli Block Backline fence reconstruction, which was done in collaboration with the private sector in the Bobirwa district, was completed in January 2023 and has significantly reduced human – elephant conflict incidences.
Moreover, the government continues to assist communities in elephant range areas by electrifying cluster fields for crop protection through the Conservation Trust Fund. Matopi, Moroka, and Matsiloje cluster fields in the North East, as well as Mokubilo cluster fields in Boteti and Nxaraga in the North West have been fenced.
In addition to these fencing initiatives, Government has carried out country-wide consultations on human-wildlife conflicts. Batswana are resolute that we should develop alternative methods of compensation; and as a Government of the people we have listened and are considering interventions that will be completed by end of the current financial year. In pursuit of promoting human-wildlife co-existence and conserving the elephant population to realise the full economic potential of the ecosystem, consumptive utilisation continues. The hunting quotas will be increased to the maximum allowable 66 by Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) during the 2024 hunting season for the benefit of communities.
During the 2023 hunting season revenuer accrued to Community Based Organisations for the hunting quota in community areas amounted to approximately Twenty-Seven Million Pula (P27 million), which will be used for the upliftment of rural livelihoods. Despite these benefits to our communities from the consumptive utilisation of wildlife, pressure from far afield to resist the importation of hunting trophies from Botswana and other countries continues to mount.
This pressure has also been echoed during various conference of parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora. As a responsible Government, we are making efforts to have the global community understand and embrace our vision. Accordingly, the government has embarked on a campaign to address authorities and other key stakeholders in those countries on the value of sustainable hunting to the livelihoods of communities that live alongside wildlife resources.”