Sunday, July 5, 2020

Multi-million Kgalagadi dry land project evolves

BY ARNOLD LETSHOLO

The multi-million Pula United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Kgalagadi and Ghanzi Dry lands Ecosystems Project is taking shape.

KGDEP’s project officer, Ikanyeng Gaodirelwe says they recently brought together farmers to establish perceptions on the project and the issue of human wildlife conflicts in a dialogue at Ghanzi. The project is implemented through four components.

“The first component entails coordinating capacity for combating wildlife crime which include trafficking, poaching and poisoning and enforcement of wildlife policies and regulations at district, national and international levels.

The second covers incentives and systems for wildlife protection by communities’ increase financial returns from natural resources. The third covers integrated landscape planning in the conservation areas; secure wildlife migratory corridors.  And the fourth component is about gender mainstreaming, knowledge management, monitoring and evaluation,” explained Gaodirelwe.

And so the dialogue was divided into three sessions, with the first session addressing the Ghanzi community’s perspectives towards human wildlife conflict and how they used their indigenous knowledge to mitigate against incidents of such nature.

The programme analyst for the Environment and Climate Change portfolio at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Innocent Magole, said the aim of the dialogue was to create a networking and knowledge exchange platform for members of the community and experts in the field of human wildlife conflict.

He mentioned that building this mutually beneficial rapport at community level is a crucial process towards addressing and solving any issues surrounding human wildlife conflict.

The second session was a presentation by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) which addressed the issues of human wildlife conflict from the Botswana Government’s perspective. According to research from DWNP, cases of human wildlife conflict incidents reported since 2016 have increased from 583 to an alarming 1580 in Gantsi alone.

The session also included background information on key problem animals being lions and cheetahs. They cause damage in the Ghanzi district as well as the legislation guiding DWNP in addressing incidents which included compensation and exgratia payment. That is when a human life has been lost due to an animal attack.

The third part represented the NGO’s perspectives. Cheetah Conservation Botswana made a presentation about their work on the ground, particularly their human wildlife conflict interventions around Cheetahs, their researches as well as their outreach programs.

The Ghanzi Communities were implored to make conservation and human wildlife conflict issues their own and take it upon themselves to employ solutions offered to them. KGDEP she said will continue to engage stakeholders through the dialogue sessions in both Ghanzi and Kgalagadi districts throughout the project duration.

The Ghanzi community called for the KGDEP project to intervene in facilitating trainings focused on sustainable harvesting of natural resources for medicinal purposes. They also requested for assistance with documentation of indigenous knowledge from communities for preservation of natural resources.

“There were complaints by farmers that, truckers who flock the Khakhea junction seem interested in medicinal herbs the local communities sell. This demand would have negative impact on these natural resources if they are not replaced. That is why they proposed that they be given technical aid to replenish them,” she said.

The project is scheduled to end in December 2023 after beginning in May 2017. It is co-funded by the government of Botswana and the UNDP to the tune of US$5, 996,789. 00.

A human wildlife curbing initiative, the project’s objective is to promote an integrated landscape approach to managing Kgalagadi and Ghanzi dry lands for ecosystem resilience, improved livelihoods and reduced conflicts between land uses which are biodiversity conservation, economic and livelihood activities.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

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