Connect with us
Advertisement

International Environmental NGOs mount Pressure on Masisi

International Environmental Non- Governmental Organizations have put pressure on President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi to abandon reintroducing the hunting of elephants.

The letter dated 13 March and signed by 28 different worlds environmental NGOs has apparently been submitted to the Office of the President.  The letter was signed by Iris Ho, Senior Specialist, Wildlife Programs and Policy, Humane Society International. The letter states that: “The undersigned organizations representing millions of members and supporters around the world sincerely and humbly request that you do not reinstate trophy hunting and that you also do not allow regular elephant culling.”


The letter continues: “In recent years Botswana has been hailed as a shining example of wildlife conservation, and a safe haven for elephants, who are free from harassment by trophy hunters and where poaching is relatively low.” It further says: “Nonetheless, we are saddened by reports from the Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephant  Programme under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that have pointed to an uptick in poaching in Southern Africa.

“In particular, Chobe National Park has experienced an increase in elephant poaching, according to the most recent Mike Chase report.  We also acknowledge your concern about the prevalence of human-elephant conflict in Botswana “letter says. However, the letter states that trophy hunting and elephant culling do not deter poaching, nor do they resolve the human-elephant conflict. A successful elephant management plan should be science-based and sustainable in order to promote the long-term peaceful co-existence between humans and animals.   

The letter also argues that In fact, trophy hunting is harmful to wildlife conservation. Trophy hunters tend to target prime age breeding males, the killing of whom disrupts the social structure and causes cascading negative impacts on populations, such as increased infanticide that results from the removal of dominant male lions and leopards.

Mokaila- ‘ we will not back off’’

Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Kitso Mokaila has revealed that Botswana will not back off from its decision on hunting. Mokaila was speaking  during a ceremony organized by Cresta Hotels in Gaborone on Tuesday to welcome him back to the ministry. Mokaila said: ” We will not back off and change our minds in terms of what we are going to do. As HATAB you must remember where your bread is buttered and support us.”

Mokaila further explained that President Mokgweetsi Masisi will soon call an elephant summit in Kasane to be attended by members of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Park to discuss ways of controlling the marauding elephants. Mokaila explained that the summit is one of  Presidents Masisi strategies to find a solution to the problems posed by elephants in Botswana and the region.  KAZA, is a regional initiative meant to promote the free cross-border movement and conservation of wildlife in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Angola.

KAZA is viewed by conservationists as a solution to the elephant numbers in Botswana. Botswana has of late faced a storm of  international condemnation after it announced plans to return trophy hunting. Some international conservationists have lambasted President Masisi for using the elephant issue to win elections and stage managing support.

Ngamiland communities support  Government on Hunting

Community-Based Organization (CBO) as represented by Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (NCONGO) have meanwhile appreciated the handing over of the Hunting Ban Consultative President Masisi by the cabinet sub-committee led by Minister Hon. Frans Van Der Westhuizen. The letter issued by NCONGO Chief Executive Officer Siyoka Simasuku reveals that CBOs  support the recommendations by the Cabinet Sub-committee that conservation Hunting should be re-introduced in Botswana.

It says the re-introduction of hunting will go a long way in alleviating rural poverty by re-introducing tourism benefits lost in 2014 when the hunting moratorium was initiated. They say hunting will also mitigate against human-wildlife conflicts especially crop damage, livestock predation and the destruction of property, especially by elephants. Elephants are causing deaths to our people and have injured many. As a result, the hunting of elephants will result in these animals relocating from human settlements to far away protected areas where they are meant to live.    

The communication says the CBO calls for the strengthening of the Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme in Botswana. “It is our strongest belief that the CBNRM programme is one approach that can result in meaningful tourism benefits to communities.

The letter further  says: “as communities, we do not take kindly to those who are attacking our Government and all initiatives meant to re-introduce hunting and uplift our livelihoods and reduce human-wildlife conflicts in our local areas .it further posits that it is believed that Botswana is a sovereign state and we have a right to discuss and decide on issues which directly affect our livelihoods and well-being. This is said in reference to the elephant distribution and populations which are threatening food security and lives in our local areas.

Continue Reading

News

Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

Continue Reading

News

Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

Continue Reading

News

Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

Continue Reading