Thursday, July 7, 2022

Living alongside wildlife problematic for villagers

There are contradictions in the government corridors on whether  people should live with wild animals in areas demarcated for wildlife management and those demarcated for agriculture land use.

Lately, the government has been at odds with residents of Ranyane settlement and those of the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve where Basarwa were threatened with eviction to pave way for wildlife conservation while the government continues to encourage other communities that reside in communal areas, such as Boteti, to live along with wild animals.  

Amid the double standards by government, observers have advised  the government to come up with a research  for the demarcation of wildlife management areas as wildlife and human wildlife conflicts intensify.

The Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism has failed to keep out wildlife in areas that have been demarcated for agriculture land use and communal grazing areas in Boteti.

Okavango Research Centre’s Professor Joseph Mbaiwa says that the government’s move to allow wildlife to encroach on agriculture land use does not support the sustainable development.

He said that the government should keep wildlife in wildlife management areas and leave people to thrive with their own lifestyle, such as farming.

Mbaiwa added that wildlife should not come as a burden to community where they damage people’s crops living them in poverty.

He argued that it was the responsibility of the government to keep wild animals in game reserves as it is stated that the wildlife will reside in wildlife management areas, adding that there is need to revisit the demarcation of wildlife management areas where the communities who reside in Boteti will be offered an opportunity to be consulted.

┬áMbaiwa emphasized that most of this demarcation was done by foreign nationals where such demarcation were done without the “will of the people”. ┬á┬á┬á

“The demarcation should show the will of the people and if it does not show that it does not support the sustainable development that the country is preaching. It┬áis an error from government side to hold back and tell the community in Boteti to live along with wildlife when wildlife encroaches on their agricultural land. This is not right because they damage the same crops that the community in Boteti relies on,” Mbaiwa said.

However, the  Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Neill Fitt says  they know about the problem of human  and wildlife conflict in the area. He said that they are currently erecting the fence that continues to be destroyed by the increasing number of elephants. 

He added that people should continue living along with wild animals in areas demarcated for agriculture land use, saying that the problem of human and wildlife conflict in Boteti was a result of the increasing population of elephants that are not controllable.

Residents in the Botleti Sub District say they have lost interest in the current government which has failed to control the increasing number of elephants that destroy their crops.

 Their comments come after the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism stated that the communities that reside in villages such as Rakops, Mmadikola and Xhumo should live along with elephants. 

One of the residents in Mmadikola, Lovie Gobonyweng, says the government does not intend to help them in controlling elephants that destroy their crops. He said that so far they have lost interest in farming because the elephants always destroy their crops.

Gobonyweng was worried that most of the farmers are giving up due to elephants’ population that keep increasing in the area.

Gobonyweng, who is a one of the young farmers who started growing vegetable crops, was fuming that the government has failed to keep wildlife away from their farms despite that they are not getting support from government.

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