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Poachers on rampage: 11 rhinos killed

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ anti-poaching measures have once again come under heavy scrutiny after an unprecedented 11 rhinos were killed in just 11 months. A response from the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism to an inquiry by this publication suggests that rhino poaching numbers have been increasing in the last 11 months.

 Two carcasses which were discovered at Mombo Island between Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th this week brings to a total 11 rhinos which were killed in the last 11 months after the new administration resorted on disarmament of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Anti- Poaching Unit, a move which led to increased cases of poaching especially on elephants. A close source revealed to WeekendPost that during Khama’s administration only one rhino was killed in 10 years.

A system known as the Rhino Safe Track System was used by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to ensure the safety of rhinos.  This was referenced to former President Ian Khama’s interest in the tourism industry, which he gave first priority. However, this week the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said they have not abandoned the rhino safe track system but could not divulge any more information on the matter.


Government could also not comment on Mike Chase’s report saying they are still studying the report. Chase made damning revelations against government anti-poaching measures when it was reported that about 90 elephants were killed in just few months following the disarmament of the Wildlife department following President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decree. The matter made international headlines, putting Botswana on the spotlight, with her conservation record also put to question.

During a media tour organized by government to clarify the matter reported, there were allegations that government maybe deliberately under reporting the extent of poaching in Botswana for the fear of affecting the local tourism sector. Heralded as a conservation success story, Botswana has in recent years received rhino donations from the Republic of South Africa where rhinos were killed in large numbers by poachers. But of late there is an apparent fear that given the lax in anti- poaching operations in Botswana, the country is following in to the footsteps of South Africa.


One of the discoveries made by Mike Dr Chase and his team, in the study concluded last year October has been the big numbers of poached elephants in the Khwai area.  “Elephant poaching has been ongoing for more than two years. From the carcasses we have seen today it is clear that poachers take out elephants of all ages. It’s serious but no one is doing anything about this growing problem which will affect the local tourism sector,” the report indicated.

Elephants Without Borders, a conservation group, said results from an ongoing elephant census in Botswana indicate poaching has surged. The spike coincided with the disarming of anti- poaching units, the group said. Masisi, who took office last year, said weapons were withdrawn from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in line with legislation that bars the department from being armed. 

An official previously specified that the weapons in question are for military use, further elaborating that the department does retain any firearms. And all security agencies have been involved in anti- poaching operations since the 1980s, according to the government. Accustomed to international praise for conservation efforts, Botswana has come under scrutiny from groups such as PETA that suggest an outcry over the weapons issue could hurt wildlife tourism here. 

WeekendPost understands that currently the bulk of anti- poaching operations are undertaken by Botswana Defence Force in Ngamiland. However, the BDF is also said to be thin on the ground due to limited resources. Information reaching this publication suggest that when the NG 32 rhino was killed some of the BDF anti-poaching officers based in Ngamiland were still engaged in Gantsi area where three other rhinos were killed in private properties this year for their horns.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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