Botswana government is more concerned over wildlife than Batswana, providing the institution with a chunk of land while inhabitants are pushed into the fringes without land to till the soil and rear animals.
Contributing to the budget proposal by the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, Members of Parliament this week expressed dissatisfaction over government unwavering affection towards wildlife whose existence is a menace to their produce, destroying plants and animals.
“Our government seems biased against its inhabitants, providing land the most precious resource to wildlife which is not only a danger to the residents themselves but a menace to their products such as plants and animals,” said Kweneng South East MP, Edward Raletobane. “By so doing, our government is not walking the talk of catapulting Botswana into a sustainable economy. We would not even satisfy the quota provided for by the European Union as the wildlife destroys our animals – a situation which augurs badly to our economy as all the virgin land is preserved for wildlife.”
Reiterating sentiments expressed by the Kweneng South East MP, Selebi-Phikwe West MP, Gilson Saleshando, for his part, indicated the north west region was almost the land of wildlife, insisting the residents in the area were subjected to glaring poverty mainly because of the game, which destroys their products willy nilly.
“Elephants destroy the inhabitants’ plants while the lions maul their cattle, leaving them wallowing in a state of hopelessness. They have on many occasions been condemned to poverty, with the government turning a blind eye to their sufferings. That we can eradicate poverty is just a notion as long as we still give so much affection and protection to wildlife at the expense of people,” Saleshando said.
Presenting the budget proposal last week, Mokaila substantiated the MPs’ predicament indicating his ministry’s concern over the damage by wildlife, which has triggered an increase in compensation.
“Since the introduction of the new rates, annual compensation costs have increased from P5 million to about P7, 5 million, excluding administrative costs of the program. In view of these growing costs, my ministry is, therefore, undertaking several projects to reduce human wildlife conflict,” Mokaila argued.
Besides embarking on an on-going project under the Global Environmental Fund to explore innovate ways to address human wildlife conflict, the ministry is constructing a predator proof fence along the southern part of Khutse Game Reserve to reduce the contact of livestock with predators in the game reserves among others.
The five-year project, GEF, is funded by the World Bank at an amount of US$5, 5 million while predator proof fence completed in November 2009 is estimated to have costP52, 4 million.