Botswana has been warned that its continued ignorance of its flora and fauna could be detrimental to the country’s quest to diversify its economy through tourism.
Pundits point out the drive for diversification from mining could be a pipe-dream should the leadership not take seriously the climate change that is even threatening humankind’s existence.
Climate change is attributed mainly to people’s activities, like the burning of fossil fuels that heat up the atmosphere and raise the temperature thereby warming and polluting the environment.
“As human-beings we are mostly concentrated on securing our existence, caring less about our flora and fauna which is a wrong perception, considering the country’s quest for diversification process away from the mineral deposits,” said David Lesolle, an academic at the University of Botswana.
Lesolle advised that as a country striving to consolidate the tourism sector, thereby injecting revenues into the public coffers away from the mineral earnings, pressure should also be exerted in conserving the vegetation and the animal kingdom.
The tourism industry, which has been tipped to be the next engine of economic growth, has been falling behind mining, but perfomed better than the beef industry over the years.
“Flora and fauna existence is on the edge as insects, flowers and even bees disappear while the animal kingdom migrate and eventually gets caught up with these environmental changes,” said Lesolle, an expert in this field.
He added that “we want to secure our food security” another glimpse should be diverted to the tourism sector, which is also just as adversely affected by the climate change.
Lesolle was speaking at Climate change workshop that started in Gaborone on Monday and brought together officials from the ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism.
By the year 2050 Global Climate Change projections indicate Botswana would be much drier while the entire Southern Africa generally would follow suit by 2060- a transition, which Joel Smith, an expert from Stratus Consultancy of the USA, maintained calls for the proactive leadership to wake up from slumber.
Many times, the American expert heard policy makers rubbish their scientific findings, insisting for a prudent governance.
“We all start from the knowledge that the world we live in is changing and that no country will be immune from challenges presented by a changing climate,” warned the American ambassador, Michelle Gavin, insisting that it was regrettable that “some of the least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and responsible for the problem are those first to feel the effects of climate change”.
In his latest research, Mike Chase, the founder of Elephants Without Borders, which did the aerial survey of the Okavango delta, observed that some of the Delta’s most precious assets will be jeopardised by change in climate and drought unless action is taken.
“The results were unexpected,” said Chase. “There has been a cosy pretence that wildlife is thriving and doing well in the Okavango delta. Our survey provides the first scientific evidence that wildlife is declining, and pretty sharply too. That cosy pretence has been blown out of the water.”
“It is still one of Africa’s great wildlife destinations, but doing nothing will jeopardise that reputation,” Chase further observed.