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Masisi sets tone for End Wild Life Crime Summit

Publishing Date : 17 September, 2018

Author : BONIFACE KEAKABETSE

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has set Botswana’s tone for the upcoming End Wild Life Crime Summit to be held in London in October which will bring together global leaders. The summit seeks to come up with ways to eradicate illegal wildlife trade.

The UK government is hosting this international conference about the illegal wildlife trade on 11 to 12 October 2018.  The conference will bring together global leaders to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction. Recently Botswana found herself at the centre of a global attention sparked by alleged death of 87 elephants report by BBC, which quoted local conservisionists, Dr Mike Chase of a local conservation non-governmental, Elephants Without Borders.

Following the report, British Prime Minister, Theresa May was quoted saying she was saddened by the news adding that: “The UK will continue to work with Botswana, who have a long and successful conservation program,” May said, adding that she looks forward to tackling the issue at the End Wild Life Crime summit in London in October. Addressing a kgotla meeting in Maun on Thursday, Masisi described the elephants poaching allegations as ‘blue lies’ perpetuated by certain people with ulterior motives to tarnish the good name of Botswana.

Masisi further refuted that the disarmament of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks did escalte poaching explaining that the Botswana Defence Force is the most capable army anti- poaching army in the world. Masisi explained to Batawana that there is no law that empowers DWNP to posesss military grade weapons saying as the president, he will not head a ‘govermennt that does not respect the rule of law. We are not like other African countries where chiefs and even ministers have their own illegal battalions”

Masisi however said is aware that he will be in the spotlight at the upcoming London summit.  He said he is aware that some of the animal rights activisits will be waiting for him. He stated that he go to London to explain Botswana’s position regarding the elephant issue without fear or favor. “I will share your concerns with this summit so that they know your experiences in living with the high elephants population,” he said.  Scores of speakers related that the high population of elephants is affecting the agriculture and human life and safety in Ngamiland.

Masisi however told the gathering that it will not be easy to kill or chase elephants from Ngamiland citing the resistance from international animal rights groups. He added that the Okavango Delta is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site and is under the international conservation efforts. Addressing Wildlife Researchers at Maun Lodge the previours day, Masisi said his government was willing to partner with researchers in policy making.

 With regard to the Okavango Delta, Masisi said research is important in helping government to work out a practicable land use and priorities for the resources use in the Wetlands.  He told the residents that his government support the maintenance of elephants under the appendix II not I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES.) CITES classify species in appendices and those in appendix I include all species threatened with extinction which are or may be affected by trade.

Trade in specimens of these species must be subject to particularly strict regulation in order not to endanger further their survival and must only be authorized in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II include: all species which although not necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.

Masisi said under appendix II, Botswana is allowed to take-out 400 elephants annualy something which may help reduce elpants –human conflicts in the country. Masisi added that poaching will not be cordoned under his administration warning that those who are caught poaching will face the wrath of the law. He explained that the country will explore all available mechanisms to manage its elephant population in collaboration with neighboring countries through all available protocols.    

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama told residents that there are ongoing nationwide consultations for the introduction of a national elephant management strategy. He also told the gathering that there is another team led by minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Pelonomi Venson- Moitoi which is consulting with different stakeholders on the review of the 2014 trophy hunting ban.

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