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We hear of the elephants, but what of the communities?

LAWRENCE OOKEDITSE
THE STALLION

The elephants have become a major factor again with the white paper on their management after issues of their overstocking. While it has quickly become a debate between the West and its perceived stooges in Botswana versus ‘patriots’ in Botswana, there is a middle ground to it; a real problem.

That problem is failure or refusal to invest in affected communities. S then, Mr. President, we are happy with the White Paper and your institution of consultations- your people are there were getting the feeling that we cared more about the animals then about them because even in the event of damage they get very little compensation.

The outcry would be less if compensation was commensurate with damage done. It would be less if the same investments tourism safari companies make into protecting their own facilities were being invested by them and government into protecting community assets and installations. But no one seems to care about this.

Our people suffer because they do not have the luxury of encountering these animals from the relative comfort and safety of a safari four wheel drive as do most of those in the West who finished their own animals and are now busy with activism on other nations’ animals. Our people bear the brunt of the wildlife so many of you find fascinating- but our communities are not the major beneficiaries from the money that comes from your glee and fascination with those animals. We do not want them exterminated, but we want a fair deal- that is the view of our people.

I am from a part of the country where elephants routinely do damage. The herds have grown evidently because these days elephants are all over in our area. We are a victim of our own success in a way- larger herds in the wild, being a country that provides relative safe sanctuary against poachers and hunters among others have meant more elephants come to our shores. You hardly ever used to see elephants on your way to Sowa from Dukwi, now they’re a constant feature along that road- whole herds now live here. A stone throw away from these herds you have an utterly impoverished community at Njuutsha.

At Njuutshaa, a lot of people are cattle herders. Many more are unemployed and have to subsist on food rations from government- but these get stopped and started depending on how the local government feels anyway- no one seems to really care. The people here are poor. They are called remote area dwellers even though they are hardly 20 kilometers from Sowa, and just about 15 kilometers or less from Dukwi. The stubborn refusal to bring service to these people, their name tagging and definition as remote by local authorities aside, there is nothing remote about them.

For generations now, this community lived off the land. But the land has now become smaller due to encroachment and the settler colony of the marauding elephants. For our people here, going out in the evening to drive cattle back to their kraals, or going into the wild for tubers and fruit has become a dreaded chore. After all, before going far, you encounter these jumbo mammals. This is not our only affected community- I am pointing out the twin dangers of poverty and neglect of some communities juxtaposed with encroachment by elephants in particular for poor communities. Their problems are only worsened.

And it does not help that most of these herd cattle for absentee cattle barons- and failure to drive cattle back to their corrals overnight may mean stock losses. And stock losses are not taken kindly by employers. In reality then, these communities are seeking a living under already perilous conditions, the addition of elephants to their foibles only worsens their misery. They have become les miserabeles when they ought not to be.

If you think this is a sick joke, go to Manxotae, a village off the shoulder of Nata.  You will find a man named Boipuso who was attacked by an elephant at dusk while returning from securing cattle for the night- today, he depends on food rations form government and is paralyzed from the waist downwards. A productive man has been rendered impotent at just about everything he used to thrive at.

This is the other side of the story, and it is not even the whole story. Ask any farmer who has had a ploughing field raided by elephants. Theirs is to look at what remains but a wasteland and just weep. Weep for you know there will be almost zero compensation from the ‘owners of the animals’ being government. This is where the problem is. In reality, the major problem is not the mere presence of elephants- the problem is the destruction caused and what follows as compensation.

We do not want the elephant killed, we want to be relatively secured from them. We know their value, but we also know their levels of destruction. They roam closer to homes and farms in larger numbers than we have seen before. But we also know the value of wildlife.
Re-introducing hunting in controlled ways would not be a very bad thing to do. It is not ideal, but something must be done. Re-introduce hunting, monitor and then when a certain threshold is reached you stop.

That may traumatize heads as research shows, and my heart breaks. But what could be done? Letting things be as they are is not an option- unless we allow the citizens to fight back as they may if elephants encroach. But as it is, an animal is more protected than a
The Directorate n Intelligence and Security Services (that is what our people at Sepako say) routinely ensnares and severely punish anyone who so much as lifts a finger against a wild animal. The animal is more protected than the people- yet the same animals sometimes raid near DIS camps- and the DIS as per the tales of our people just slumber and won’t make effort to drive the animals away.

Another option is for the tourism industry and the world (since the world so much cares about conservation): pump money into barriers to protect our people. Farms are in designated areas. If government wishes and the world also so wishes, you literally could cordon off farming areas that are at risk- the same way safari companies are able to protect their water installations and other assets from elephants.

So far, we have failed our communities. We have failed to offer farmers compensation for destruction by wild animals. We reap money from tourism as a country and reinvest that money in other parts of the country, but we terribly fail the communities that live with the animals. If some intelligent statistician or economist was to make a breakdown of a portion of investment government puts into our communities you’d find that it’s a pittance compared to other parts of the country.

We live with the animals. We are not allowed to kill them but they have not read the same laws- they kill us and destroy our crops and other valuables. Since they’re owned by government, it would only be fair that government compensation is reasonable. But your cow may be killed by a leopard and they’d give you P300 as compensation- a cow is worth up to P5000 in the open markets.

As mentioned on victims of elephant attacks, the state does nothing for these people that is closing to giving them back their normal lives- they get the usual destitute rations. But they were able bodied and able to provide more for themselves previously. Suddenly they are thrown into destitution by government and her animals. Why then should they care? Tell me. They are hurt and easily get depressed watching life pass them by as a result of some animal attack.

So then, start paying attention to campaigns for better compensation for victims of these animals; pay attention to struggles for better livelihoods for communities who live near or with wildlife. Protect us or allow us to protect and repay ourselves in the event of damage by your animals. We have hearts and we do not want to see animals suffer. But they make us suffer- you have the money and technology to end the suffering but you care more about the money than about victims.

By the way did you know? A dam was to be built at Mosetse. It never was. Big excuse was that the river takes fresh water to The Makgadikgadi pans and damming it would reduce inflows of fresh water and perhaps disturb the wildlife. Utter nonsense. So the people should have hard salty and unpalatable water right? And the animals fresh water? President Masisi has his job cut out for him, but he should know the people out there appreciate the consultations and possibility of finding a good solution.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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