Question: Are Batswana are ignorant when it comes to the conservation and protection of birdlife?
Some don’t even notice that birds exist until they hear someone talk about them even though we make everyday positive symbols using their images.
The symbol of a dove is interpreted to represents peace worldwide; the eagle to show something that is just about to take flight, most of the time small businesses that are in search of success.
Think about it; when was the last time you personally took an interest in differentiating a flamingo from and eagle out of pure interest.
And we all know the reason that everyone of us knows the vulture is because it can smell death from far away as it preys on dead animals, e.g. our cattle.
When was the last time you stopped a couple of kids from killing a bird for fun?
In fact, Batswana have come a long way with the mistreatment of birds. Birds, such as doves, are considered as food, in actual fact, some of us may remember that birds were the reason catapults (seragantshwane) was invented.
Catapults were used to target flying birds, shoot them down and eat them, after cooking them of course; birds were fragile then, as there was no existing law that could protect them.
In all their beauty, birds make up an important part of our ecosystem that is often ignored, and overlooked.
In categorizing conservation methods, people are worried about the killing of elephants, rhinos, springboks and the likes, only a few are interested in what actually happens to one of nature’s most fragile creatures.
Think about it, most of the time bird images often represent peaceful situations and act as motivational and inspirational symbols.
Because there is one thing birds do that no other animal or creature can do, birds can fly! Birds can fly really high; the closest humans have ever come to experiencing the feeling of flying is in airplanes and hot air balloons.
And who has ever seen anything as mesmerizing and colourfully enticing as the proud bird that is the peacock?
Those who visit the Okavango will tell you of the comforting and relaxing view of watching birds by the swamps at sunset and sunrise as they swiftly land up and down in circles trying to gulp down water.
They can also tell you that bird chirpings are the reasons why one’s mind is relaxed to a state of bonding with nature.
Not only them, but those who have been to the cattle post on quiet, sunny boring days, when people see and feel life passing them by, most of them say the bird chirping makes them feel at home and at a naturally comforting state with nature; they feel unthreatened and at ease.
People are always complaining about how there is virtually nothing to do in Botswana, well maybe this is because we don’t like to broaden our interests. Who knows, maybe if one was to try things like bird watching instead of shooting them, they might actually like it.
Despite the negativity from the majority regarding the safe keeping of birdlife, a non-governmental organization that deserves recognition in its work to sensitize Batswana on birds’ species and research about conservation ways of keeping them safe exists in Botswana.
The company is now called Birdlife Botswana (BLB).
It served as a branch under the Botswana society club, until it gained its independence in 2001.
It was established as the first official birdlife international representative for Botswana.
BLB has been sponsoring individuals to study as bird guides and strives to integrate bird conservation into sustaining people’s lives.
BLB has a number of partners in different African countries that help sustain its existence.
It also has different branches operating in different parts of the country, e.g. the Gaborone branch, Francistown branch, Kasane branch, and the Maun branch.
It has a membership forum online where any interested person can join and pay a fee of about P20.
It encourages activities such as that of bird watching.