Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Aliens in Botswana

Mostly, the word alien sends fear amongst some people; it is a word known to be referring to some unknown scary species from different/foreign planets.

These are species which are feared to be invasive and known to displace other species from their natural habitats.

Under flora and fauna, there are indigenous species competing for resources amongst themselves.
As if it is not enough, some exotic species are giving the indigenous species further competition for resources and habitats.

In Botswana, there are several invasive alien plant species which are slowly displacing and replacing indigenous flora, mostly around urban areas, and these were introduced in the name of aesthetic purposes. Some of these alien species have found their way inside several areas – examples being schools, public areas, shopping malls, residential areas and some places of importance like, national monuments and conservation areas.

Some of the alien invasive plants have been, out of ignorance, introduced to beautify the mentioned areas, while some have accidentally introduced themselves through natural methods; either seeds are dispersed by wind, water, birds, people and different animals.

Invasive alien plants differ categorically according to growth, method of seed dispersal, speed of invading, and damage caused to the ecosystem. These plants include different types like herbs, shrubs, grasses and trees. Amongst them are highly poisonous, water draining and weed plants.
They are plants which are usually introduced during developments as many people find the beauty within the alien plants which are mostly beautiful but dangerous.

Around urban areas and townships where infrastructural developments are experienced, eradication of indigenous plants is high and introduction of alien invasive plants is also high.

The scary part is that there is less information availed to the public concerning the negative impact of these beautiful but dangerous plants. Most people only know and see aesthetic part of these plants, but cannot see the hidden danger attached to these species.

Some of the common invasive alien plants spreading mostly around urban areas are Melia azedarach (mosalaosi), Agave species, Jacaranda mimosifolia (jacaranda) Tecoma stans (yellow bells) invading Gaborone city, Opuntia spp (Motoroko) and many other species, which are slowly being introduced by people and those naturally finding their way into the natural vegetation.

Alien invasive species can be a threat to the ecosystem if not attended to at the early stage. Their invasion can lead to an expensive project to reverse, and thousands of pula will be needed to remove/eradicate these plants. Natural/Indigenous flora can be compromised because of Alien plant species invasion.

It is crucial for the relevant institutions to educate the public about the negative impact of introducing invasive alien plants into their gardens. It will be a good move for the country to put up regulations and rules on handling plants which can cause damage to the ecosystem/natural vegetation.

There is no known regulation in the country put in place that controls or regulates the planting, selling or propagating alien invasive plants, which results in spreading invasive alien plants through out the country.

It will save the country funds, time and the ecosystem, if invasive alien plants can be controlled before massive invasion takes place.

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