Botswana is providing support for human- wildlife conflict mitigation through the Community Guardianship and Livestock Protection Programme under the Wildlife and Communities Action Trust (WildCAT), an affiliate of the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU).
This latest initiative, which commenced in August 2020, is also aiding in lion conservation in Botswana’s Ngamiland and the Central Districts and supported by Wilderness Safaris’ non-profit partner, Wilderness Wildlife Trust.
The objective is to improve conservation outcomes for African lions through alleviating human- lion conflict and increasing predator tolerance, whilst at the same time improving rural livelihoods through guardianship and education.
Human- lion conflict is a major contributor to lion mortality, and tolerance for livestock losses is low amongst many rural communities in Botswana.
The Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) is one of the last remaining strongholds for African lions, and connectivity within the Makgadikgadi- Hwange-Chobe landscape is vital for the long- term genetic diversity and survival of lions and other predators.
Yet, farmers living alongside lion populations suffer regular livestock depredation and feel disassociated from the benefits that wildlife brings.
The programme trains and employs local Community Guardians from the villages to assess and deliver locally- appropriate solutions for conflict. The focus of this funding application was to help support the Boteti Project, operating since 2017 in the village of Khumaga and its surrounding cattle posts.
This area borders the Makgadikgadi Pan National Park (MPNP), and is situated on an important wildlife connectivity corridor to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, as well as north to the Okavango Delta and Hwange regions.
A dual focus in this area was to provide educational workshops to help communities understand wild predator behaviour, with a particular focus on how to stay safe should they encounter a predator, and practical mitigation of livestock depredation through the construction of predator- resistant kraals.
Even in the midst of the COVID crisis in 2020, 10 new predator- resistant kraals were constructed in conflict hotspots at cattle posts adjacent to the boundary with the MPNP in the Boteti area, taking the total number of these protected livestock enclosures to 18.
These enclosures use a simple combination of strong posts bolted together with cross- poles and 1.8 metre high diamond mesh to prevent predators gaining access. More than 1 300 head of livestock are now safeguarded, with these predator- proof kraals having proved 100% effective at preventing livestock losses to lions.
Three full-time Community Guardians have also been employed through the programme, after undergoing an insightful five-day training workshop in Savuti in late 2020.
Lower than usual conflict was experienced during 2020, perhaps as a result of the increased human presence in rural areas as a result of unemployment due to COVD-19, and due to the positive impact of the project activities.
“Human-Wildlife Conflict is one of the major drivers of lion mortality across large areas of remaining lion range, and, with the continental population of this iconic species having nearly halved in the last 25 years, it’s imperative that we reduce conflict-related killings wherever possible. That’s why the Protect Programme of our Impact Strategy supports important projects like this one, and others that aim to move the needle from conflict to co- existence,” concludes Dr Neil Midlane, Wilderness Safaris Group Impact Manager.
Due to the range of eco-systems in Botswana the size of lion prides shows a great variation from area to area.
Prides in the Central Kalahari will generally be smaller than the prides in the Okavango and other northern wilderness areas.
This is because the availability of food is less in the drier areas. The larger prides in these arid areas will often split into smaller sub- prides during the dry season.
Home ranges of the lions vary in size for the same reasons – availability of food. In the arid areas the home ranges will be much larger and a great deal of overlapping with neighbouring prides occur.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.
Letlhakeng:TotalEnergies Botswana today launched a Road Safety Campaign as part of their annual Stakeholder Relationship Management (SRM), in partnership with Unitrans, MVA Fund, TotalEnergies Letlhakeng Filling Station and the Letlhakeng Sub District Road Safety Committee during an event held in Letlhakeng under the theme, #IamTrafficToo.
The Supplier Relationship Management initiative is an undertaking by TotalEnergies through which TotalEnergie annually explores and implements social responsibility activities in communities within which we operate, by engaging key stakeholders who are aligned with the organization’s objectives. Speaking during the launch event, TotalEnergies’ Operations and HSSEQ, Patrick Thedi said, “We at TotalEnergies pride ourselves in being an industrial operator with a strategy centered on respect, listening, dialogue and stakeholder involvement, and a partner in the sustainable social and economic development of its host communities and countries. We are also very fortunate to have stakeholders who are in alignment with our organizational objectives. We assess relationships with our key stakeholders to understand their concerns and expectations as well as identify priority areas for improvement to strengthen the integration of Total Energies in the community. As our organization transitions from Total to Total Energies, we are committed to exploring sustainable initiatives that will be equally indicative of our growth and this Campaign is a step in the right direction. ”
As part of this campaign roll out, stakeholders will be refurbishing and upgrading and installing road signs around schools in the area, and generally where required. One of the objectives of the Campaign is to bring awareness and training on how to manage and share the road/parking with bulk vehicles, as the number of bulk vehicles using the Letlhakeng road to bypass Trans Kalahari increases. When welcoming guests to Letlhakeng, Kgosi Balepi said he welcomed the initiative as it will reduce the number of road incidents in the area.
Also present was District Traffic Officer ASP, Reuben Moleele, who gave a statistical overview of accidents in the region, as well as the rest of the country. Moleele applauded TotalEnergies and partners on the Campaign, especially ahead of the festive season, a time he pointed out is always one with high road statistics. The campaign name #IamTrafficToo, is a reminder to all road users, including pedestrians that they too need to be vigilant and play their part in ensuring a reduction in road incidents.
The official proceedings of the day included a handover of reflectors and stop/Go signs to the Letlhakeng Cluster from TotalEnerigies, injury prevention from tips from MVA’s Onkabetse Petlwana, as well as bulk vehicle safety tips delivered from Adolf Namate of Unitrans.
TotalEnergies, which is committed to having zero carbon emissions by 2050, has committed to rolling out the Road safety Campaign to the rest of the country in the future.