Governments should consider consulting Botswana on its anti-poaching model rather than support ivory torching, Minister of Wildlife, Environment and Tourism Tshekedi Khama said earlier this week while addressing the media on the country’s stand with regards to the historic ivory burn event this weekend in Kenya.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to burn a 105 tonnes stockpile of ivory this weekend, including 1.5 tonnes of rhino horn-the ivory stockpile is regarded as the largest to be set to fire by one country. The move, is believed will protect elephants. Kenya said the burning, which will take place at the end of the Giants Summit in the city of Nanyuki, would send a message to poachers and ivory-trafficking syndicates that the ivory had no value.
However, Khama said, at the press conference, that while Botswana is attending the Giant’s Club Summit in Nanyuki to represent its commitment to finding lasting solutions to ensuring the longevity and sustainability of Africa’s wild elephant population, it would not attend the burning ceremony.
The minister does not believe in the burning of ivory because, he said, his government has told communities co-existing with elephants that the elephants have value.
“As a government we should practise what we preach. I don’t know how I demonstrate to future generations the value of something I burn. We burn rubbish, and ivory isn’t rubbish,” the outspoken minister told the media.
According to the minister, Botswana’s accomplishment stems from political will brought about through transparency coupled with successful programmes within communities and zero tolerance towards poaching and sustainable management of natural resources.
“Africa needs to lead and not allow others to lead them on how to handle such. A lot more countries are paying attention and want to have us lobby with them, particularly because of our anti-poaching model,” the minister asserted.
According to Minister Khama, the country has the least poaching cases because of the anti- poaching model it uses.
Botswana has adopted a controversial “shoot to kill” policy against poachers, which according to media reports has created tension between her and countries it shares borders with. The country has been accused of valuing wildlife more than it does human life.
He further said that the continent needed “meaningful help” and does not need outsiders to come and tell them how to “play the game on the field”.
The country’s stockpiles, he said, would be kept in case trading laws changed or bans were lifted in future. There has been an international ban on ivory trade since 1989 and Ivory sales are also illegal under the terms of CITES, the international convention on the trade in endangered species, to which Botswana is a signatory.
While the international ivory trade was banned in 1989 one-off sales of ivory stockpiles have since been permitted and trade in old ivory is also allowed, giving criminal smugglers cover for their illegal trade.
Furthermore, the minister lamented that the country, being a middle income country isn’t getting donations towards anti-poaching. He said while the MEWT was working with the Police Services and the Defence Force, the departments too had their own mandates they needed to tend to. He decried the lack of air cover to monitor endangered species.
The minister however said, the Tlhokomela Endangered Wildlife Trust, housed by his ministry and started late last year was well on track. He said the trust was making headway in raising funds towards anti-poaching initiatives in the country and it has remained accountable to its donors.
Ivory is sought out for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.
It is estimated that more than 30,000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year.
Various Heads of States including Hollywood big shots are in attendance of the Giants Summit. President Khama however could not attend the summit and sent his brother, Minister Khama.
BOTSWANA HOME TO 40% OF WORLD’S ELEPHANTS
Botswana is home to at least 160 000 elephants, more than anywhere else in the world.
During the 2013 African Elephant Summit, urgent measures which needed to be implemented to combat elephant poaching and trafficking of ivory were agreed on.
Some of them included adopting a zero tolerance approach to elephant poaching and ivory trafficking and enhancing capacity of law enforcement and wildlife protection agencies.â€¨â€¨
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.