A second-language English speaker would probably have been able to use that fact as an excuse for their choice of words but that option doesn’t exist for Elephants Without Borders because it is helmed by people whose mother tongue is English.
“EWB’s sole concern is for the wildlife and the natural heritage of our wonderful country and its preservation for future generations of Batswana,” the Kasane-based NGO says in a press statement it put last week, its second after one about 87 elephants killed by poachers that set off an international firestorm.
Here at home, a lot of people have expressed grave concern that EWB and its international supporters care more about wildlife than people who co-exist with such wildlife in the northern part of the country. “Sole concern is for the wildlife” will certainly reinforce that impression. On the basis of the overwhelming evidence, “EWB sole concern is for the wildlife” appears to be a Freudian slip.
While EWB shows photographic evidence of elephants killed by poachers on its Facebook wall, it never shows pictures of crops, homes and vegetation destroyed by elephants. Dr. Erik Verreynne, a wildlife vet familiar with the areas and issues in question, recasts the latter point by saying the following in a Facebook wall post that was very well-received here at home: “As you drive along the road, signs by a conservation NGO indicate the elephant corridors that the elephants use to reach the water on the flood plain. This is to prevent future development but do not safeguard the houses and fields already established in the way of the ever increasing elephant herds.
To some extent, these signs are rather ironical. The short stunted mophane shrubs strewn with skeletons of large trees interspersed with well-worn elephant paths and heaps of elephant dung where they cross the road, is stating the obvious.”
As this issue escalates, it has taken a dark racial tone with digital battle lines being drawn between black and white combatants on Facebook. Reflecting on this, Shane Seaman from Maun wrote that his experience has been that “Africans” have a tendency of “rushing or searching desperately for some way to fob it all off to race. When I grew up in Sepopa and Seronga, all people had very similar mindsets and great respect for one another. But as things developed and more people moved up from south, it also has brought along this race thing we never used to have.” Three years ago, singer Berry Heart, a southerner from Kweneng District, tussled with a white businessman whom she accused of having been virulently racist towards her in the tourist resort of Kasane.