Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Botswana courts Kenya on anti-ivory burning

Botswana has moved swiftly to convince the Kenyan authorities to move away from burning ivory stockpile of wildlife species such as elephants. 

Botswana is one of the countries that have lately objected to the tradition of burning of ivory as it has a potential to send a wrong message about the country’s conservation efforts on its natural resources. 

Botswana is of the view that the culture of burning ivory stock pile has a potential to make some wildlife species extinct as wild criminals continue to poach wildlife species such as elephants for ivory trade.

In his recent visit, Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta was engaged on why Botswana took a position not to burn ivory a move that has seen Botswana convincing other countries such as Malawi not to go ahead with burning of ivory.   

“I had an opportunity to discuss several points of interest particularly on issues of tourism and wildlife when I hosted Kenyatta on behalf of the President Ian Khama in Kasane. We did discuss the benefits of wildlife and what we do with the wildlife trophies. We discussed the reason why we don’t burn ivory in Botswana,” said the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama. 

Khama said he discussed with Kenyatta the reasons why Botswana is against the burning of the ivory.  

He further stated that Kenyatta also indicated that sometimes there is a need to rethink about the positions that countries have taken before such as the burning of ivory stockpile.   

“For me it was not to try to impose myself on him but to explain our position to see whether he can pick up something in order to be able to look at the issue from our perspective,” added Khama. 

Khama further indicated that he took Kenyatta and his entourage to Sir Seretse Khama International airport for sculpture viewing to give him an opportunity to see how the ivory can be used for tangible benefits.

Khama indicated that he was happy to take him to view a sculpture made out of elephant tusks that was meant to showcase the country efforts towards conservation of wildlife species.

He indicated that Kenyatta was very impressed about Botswana efforts in keeping the ivory for generations to come.

 He said that the comment he made to Kenyatta was that when tusks are burned after animals such as elephants dies  due to several reason when its ivory are burned this wipe out the existence of such wildlife species. 

He said that in years to come there is nothing to show that there were such kind of wildlife species  in the country. 

He indicated that Kenyatta was very receptive to Botswana’s position on the burning of ivory.  

Khama stated that they will continue to dialogue on the issue of tourism and issues of wildlife protection as most of the African countries are faced by criminal syndicates who poach wildlife species for ivory trade.  Khama said that burning of ivory is likely to send a wrong message to the world which depicts Botswana as a country that is not caring when it comes protection of wildlife species elephants. 

He said that they will continue to explore other alternatives on how to utilize the stockpiled elephant tusks such as displaying them for future generations.

Khama further stated that they have since advised Malawi to stop burning of elephant tasks where the country acceded to their plea.

He said that there is a need to keep the ivory for the future generation in endeavor to teach the young generation about the existence of elephant population in the country.

 Khama further stated that Kenyatta gave Botswana controversial   anti poaching a thumbs-up. He said that the two countries have agreed to strengthen the working relationship in wildlife protection. 

Meanwhile, Khama has indicated that the government is strengthening the anti poaching initiatives as the country plans to host 100 rhinos that will be relocated into Botswana from South Africa.   He was of the view that the latest move to relocated more than 100 rhinos from South Africa to Botswana has a potential to attract organized wildlife criminal syndicates who poach rhinos.

“There is now how you can be a host to such endangered species and fail to come up with measures to protect such species,” added Khama. 

Khama hailed Botswana anti-poaching initiatives as the one of the reasons that encourage neighbouring countries to donate rhinos as they know that Botswana is a safe haven for rhinos.

Botswana has adopted a controversial “Shoot to Kill” policy against poachers.


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