Research Consultant, Larry Patterson has advised Botswana to challenge itself and embrace extensive game ranching, expand and guide it for the country to reap its environmental and economic benefits.
Patterson criticized Botswana for remaining blinkered and stuck to a vision of high revenues from a decreasing wildlife resource base in a deteriorating but ever expanding scenario of photographic tourism.
Addressing Botswana Symposium on Wetlands and Environment 2015, Patterson advised that diversification of the economy using ecological platforms is readily attainable through game ranching.
Patterson explained that among opportunities which Botswana needs to grasp is to expand the game ranching estate by providing citizens with an affordable way into the industry. He stressed that more tribal land could be made available for game ranching and seed populations of suitable species could be provided from the parks and game ranches.
“The major part of the so called WMAs in some districts is defunct and could be more productive and conservationist as game ranches.”
He added that swathes of land surrounding some of the country’s parks and reserves which are misguidedly being allocated for photographic tourism would be much more suited to game ranching especially through community owned conservancies.
Patterson also shared that another way to greatly enhance the potential of game ranching is through breeding rare and valuable species. He added that these include sable, roan and tsessebe which occur in exploitable numbers in certain areas of Pandamatenga and Ngamiland.
“The veterinary constraints have been demonstrated to be easily overcome and we now only need the political will. Most of all we must capitalize on the potentially immense value of a single species being the buffalo.”
Patterson underscored that the recent ‘feeding frenzy’ over coloured wildebeest seems to be spilling over into other species adding that red coloured individuals which originated in the Limpopo valley are now called ‘golden gnus’ and are bred and sold fairly in South Africa.
“Prices for adult animals have stabilized at around R500 000 and the so called ‘splits’ which allegedly have one red parent fetch prices exceeding R100 000. ‘King wildebeest’ which are rarer resemble an ugly palamino, but sell for millions. Black impala are sold for over R200 000 while black saddled impala are rated for R750 000 and there are high premiums for coloured and white (not albino) animals such as springbok, gemsbok and kudu.”
Patterson advised that Botswana may have reservations because of suggestions from scientists and conservationists but it must acknowledge the commercial opportunities which these animals present.
The research consultant warned that Botswana should consider recent scenarios in the industry in South Africa and guard against blindly following developments that have damaging environmental consequences.
“The trend to subdivide ranches into sub units as small as 100ha camps in order to breed colour variants such as black impala is not game ranching. It is intensive stud breeding and stock rearing with ecological costs and dubious conservation value.”
Patterson expressed that the recent market driven phenomenal demand for colour variants and resulting spectacular escalation in value is the main cause driving these unwelcome developments. He informed that colour variants of species are not in themselves a biological threat but they are merely a result of recessive genes and were uncommon because they are more susceptible to predation under extensive natural conditions.
Despite claims of returning considerable land holdings to wildlife being valid and can be substantially expanded, Patterson has refuted that there are no conservation benefits from massive proliferation of game proof fencing which fragments viable ecological units. He explained that in Botswana the average game ranch is currently a healthy 9000ha that is more than ten times in South Africa. He advised that registration should be restricted to ranches exceeding 2000ha and intensive breeding should com under separate legislation.
Game ranching in Botswana began in the late 1980s. At first it was limited to a few large cattle farmers in Ghanzi and Tuli Block who had the initiative, land and funds to develop it. These early pioneers were influenced by the development of the industry in Namibia and South Africa. By 1999 there were still only 17 game ranches in Botswana but since 2000 game ranching has taken off in Botswana.
The advent of the Botswana Wildlife Producers Association (BWPA) in 2002 and a crucial government decision to allow full rights ownership over animals stimulated the fledging industry. It is reported that there are now over 100 game ranches in the country.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
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Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.