Seeing young people taking the time to protect the flora and fauna of Botswana not only for preservation but also promoting tourism as a form of economic diversification for the growth of the country’s economy is a very commendable gesture.
Two young men named Elvis Kebonang and Ronald Antonio have taken the anti poaching campaign a notch higher and are in the process of organising the inaugural Mr and Ms Anti Poaching Africa, an initiative in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Kebonang explained that this is just one of the activities their company, Captive Eye, has up their sleeve in order to attain the 2023 vision of garnering P12.3 billion through tourism in Botswana.
“This year’s pageant is actually a pilot and the intention is to engage SADC and other African countries as it continues to grow,” stated Kebonang who also suggested that they had already generated interest in countries like Swaziland, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zambia and South Africa.
This initiative was initially launched in March by the Russian ambassador to Botswana. The question ‘Why Russia?’ came up and was duly responded to that the team had actually benchmarked from the Russians as they had suffered a lot of poaching of their bears and tigers by the Asian for their traditional rituals.
The team intends on covering the lengths and breadths of the country to get participants for this pageant by scouting in a total of 11 different locations. “We are done with Gaborone and next on our list are Palapye and Serowe,” stated Kebonang. They are targeting the ‘Youth’ which they defined as anyone ranging between the ages of 18 and 35. “We are not looking for the conventional beauty queen and king but rather brand ambassadors for Botswana and her tourism.”
The duo boldly stated that the winners stand a chance of winning the Toyota Landcruiser 4.5 litre vehicles and will be contractually bound for six months to pursue the mandate of the organisation, travelling all over the country establishing trusts for nature conservation.
Regarding those whose livelihood depends on living off their natural habitat feeding off their flora and fauna, they will have to find and define alternative methods of sustenance without harming the environment.
As part of their anti poaching campaign, the organisation also intends on taking public education by rolling out a photography competition at the cattle posts among the herders. This will be done in conjunction with Limkokwing University and they intend on giving them cameras to capture their plants and animals while teaching them the impacts of not protecting them. They also intend on teaching herders about the more convenient times to hunt and that they should not disturb the mating season so that the animals get to reproduce. While on this quest they also intend to explore the medicinal plants harboured by Botswana and how Batswana can benefit from them.
The pageant is slated to take place in November this year at a place to be announced at a later date.