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Markus calls for lifting of hunting ban

Maun East MP Mr Kostantinos Markus has tabled a motion requesting government to consider lifting the ban on the hunting and shooting of elephants in areas that are not designated as game reserves and national parks.

In his presentation of the motion on Wednesday, Mr Markus said there were several factors that necessitated the lifting of the ban; among those he cited, the increase in elephant population, increased instances of human/wildlife conflict, reduced local benefits from tourism through Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) programme as well as less benefits from photographic tourism.

He said the elephant population had increased such that elephants were now found in areas in which they were previously rare.

“While Botswana is faced with the challenge of wildlife decline, it is not the case with all wildlife species in the country.

The elephant population in Botswana has been on the increase since 1992,” he stated.

The legislator also attributed the growth in the elephant population to migration of elephants into Botswana from the  neighbouring Zimbabwe.

He added that because there was no hunting of elephants and their numbers continued to increase, Batswana were becoming more and more impoverished due to the damage that the species often left in their trail.

He said areas such as Nkange, Mmadinare, parts of Boteti, Ngamiland and Chobe had consistently experienced crop damage, and in turn growing levels of poverty.

He said many parts of the country, which have been ravaged by elephants, recorded a reduction in actual yields on yearly basis due to crop raiding by elephants.

Because of the persistent damage, Mr Markus noted that perceptions of local communities towards wildlife conservation had changed since the hunting ban came into effect.

“Communities have become very hostile and negative towards wildlife, which is not desired if Botswana was to achieve sustainable development,” he argued.

He said what was even more sad were the growing instances of loss of lives due to elephant attacks on people.

Raising another point, Mr Markus said the hunting ban had resulted in reduced tourism benefits previously enjoyed by local communities through the CBRNM.

“In the first 12 months after the hunting ban, communities involved in the CBRNM programme in the Ngamiland District lost approximately a total of P7 million as well as 200 jobs,” he pointed out.

He added that it had also been found that CBNRM projects experienced revenue reduction from P11.3 million in 2012 to P5.6 million in 2015.

MP Markus further observed that the hunting ban had contributed to increased incidences of poaching in the country.

In the end, Mr Markus noted that ignoring human wellbeing to achieve conservation goals was morally wrong and often defeated the sustainable development aspirations.

Debating the motion, Maun West MP Mr Tawana Moremi said the problem of elephants’ intrusion into human-populated areas was a thorny and topical issue in his area.

Highlighting the need to strike a balance between issues of humans and wildlife, Mr Moremi said the issue of elephants’ encroachment and subsequent damage to people’s sources of livelihood should not be divorced from other issues, particularly those relating to agriculture.

Agreeing that it was necessary to lift the hunting ban, he suggested that trophy hunting be used as it could be both a source of revenue for the country as well as a way to push the elephants back into wildlife management areas.

Also supporting the motion, MP for Boteti East Mr Sethomo Lelatisitswe said his constituency was also grappling with the problem of elephant invasion such that people could no longer take care of their fields.

He said as a result of the fear to stay away from home and tend their crops, the majority of people had resorted to depending on Ipelegeng for livelihood.

Mr Lelatisitswe therefore urged government to move swiftly to lift the hunting ban as any delays would result in Batswana plunging even deeper into poverty.

The MP also decried the low compensation that damage caused by elephants attracted, saying it often did not match the ‘massive’ damage that the animals often caused. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Keonee Kealeboga

Location : GABORONE

Event : Parliament

Date : Jun 21 Thu,2018

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