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While Tati East Member of Parliament Moyo Guma enjoys the constitutional right to shoot and kill a wild animal in self-defence, such a move would prove suicidal should he attempt to employ the services of his trusted 30-06 rifle against marauding elephants.
That was the advice from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife, and Tourism, Thato Raphaka when appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday.
“As much as you have the power to kill an animal if you believe it puts your life in danger we always advice that you should inform the wildlife department so they can assist you for the simple reason that you might try to kill an elephant with your 30-06 rifle which is not going to kill the elephant, and in return the animal will charge and possibly kill you,” Raphaka said, to Guma’s protests “I will use my 458.”
The MP had raised concerns about the havoc caused by elephants in his region accusing the relevant leadership of living in a totally different world to that of his constituents.
He said Batswana’s cattle cross into Zimbabwe and get shot because the elephants have destroyed the border fence between the two countries. He said the people’s lives are also in danger.
“You cannot move at night. You can’t plough, you can’t do anything but the leadership does not care,” Guma said. “The constitution allows me to kill any animal that threatens my life…I have to tour the area with my three rifles 30-06, .458, and .375 or otherwise I can’t move because it’s dangerous out there. Go and check how the people who live in Matlopi and surrounding areas live.”
He said the government has failed to protect people from elephants. MP for Nata/Gweta Paulson Majaga shared Guma’s sentiments saying the department of Wildlife and National Parks was under resourced. “How can they protect us when they do not have adequate resources?” Majaga asked to which the PS admitted that the department was indeed under resourced especially with regards to transport. “We are working on it.”
When presenting a motion for lifting the ban on hunting earlier this year MP for Maun East Kosta Markus said Elephant population has increased to an extent that they are now found even in areas which were previously not common. He said the elephant population in Botswana has been on the increase since 1992 and since there was no hunting of elephants, their numbers have continued to increase leading to increased conflict with humans.