Friday, December 1, 2023

‘Hands off Botswana tourism’- Joubert warns Survival International

Survival International (SI) has no right to internationally lobby for the blacklisting Botswana as a tourism destination on allegations of overlooking the 2006 High Court ruling for the relocation of the Basarwa in the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve, an award winning and celebrated environmentalist has said.

The National Geographic laureate, Derek Joubert, told Sunday Standard that by bringing the blacklisting of Botswana’s tourism on to their agenda recently, SI in his opinion “does not want a solution, they want the issue!” And neither should they meddle in wildlife conservation programmes because it’s not their business.

“Instead, SI should offer support to local NGOs better equipped to work with government and find solutions. When they step in, it increases the tension most specifically because they are not well informed or they choose to misunderstand. However, in general I see wildlife and even humanitarian issues as not country level but global issues,” Joubert said.

Regarding Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programmes, the Sani peoples of the Kgalagadi, protection of endangered species and land degradation, Joubert said Botswana has done a reasonable job of working out the issues, but a poor job of telling everyone about it.

“Given more public relations and communication, I am sure that it will stop coming up. I am concerned that around the villages, there is a wildlife dead zone because of the poaching and I wish we had the means to work with them to better understand how to stop that.”

Of late, the impact on fauna species due to increased mining and mineral exploration especially in the country’s mineral rich zones could be dramatic. “I would caution against this being in National Parks and wildlife areas and view wildlife as a renewable asset of great value. As poaching elsewhere increases, we will have wildlife of such great value that we need to protect it. Mine the parks and we will be scoring an own goal.”

According to Joubert, rhino poaching threatens to wipe this endangered species in southern Africa. For instance, South Africa is losing one rhino every nine hours from poaching and to date 700 have been killed.

Given uncorroborated information that poacher syndicates pay US$1 million to the poaching chain per rhino killed, one deterrent would involve experimentally injecting the edible portions with substances harmful to Man and not to the rhino.

The use of micro chips surveillance beefing up anti-poaching and fast tracking the arrest and convictions against poachers could minimize the malice.

“If we are to protect our small rhino population it needs a very serious directive with very strict sentences.”

Commenting on the 2011/12 fatal poisoning of vultures in Kasane, Joubert said the effects on wildlife species throughout Botswana are yet to surface as vultures play a purgatory role of the environment as birds of carrion.

“We are yet to feel poison of this intensity like Furadan which should be a controlled substance that you need a licence to purchase.”

Dereck and Beverley Joubert were guest speakers at the Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) Annual Gala Dinner Dance held in Gaborone on November 1. No sooner had the National Geographic award-winning Filmmakers enhanced guests who included Botswana’s President Khama’s environmental awareness did they aquatic mammals style re-submerge into their lifelong passion, the untamed wilderness.


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