Survival International has received disturbing reports about an imminent eviction of several hundred Bushmen in southern Botswana to make way for a 'wildlife corridor'. The Bushman community at Ranyane has allegedly been told by the local government that trucks will arrive on Monday to remove them from land they have inhabited for generations. Their houses will be destroyed. The Bushmen's land is in a proposed 'wildlife corridor' which American organization Conservation International, whose Board members include Botswana's President Khama, has pushed for over a period of many years. The land lies between the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and is also occupied by some settlers and farms.
Survival International has contacted President Khama and Conservation International, voicing its opposition to the planned eviction of the Bushman community.
A Bushman told Survival, 'We appeal to anyone who can, to help give their support to the Bushmen at Ranyane to fight for their right to stay on their land. The international community needs to know that what the government is doing is wrong.'
It is not the first time Botswana's Bushmen have been targeted by the government in the name of conservation. In three brutal evictions between 1997 and 2005, thousands of Bushmen were removed from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, supposedly for wildlife conservation. Bushmen forced off their land in 2002 went to court and in a landmark judgement Botswana's High Court ruled in 2006 that the evictions were 'unlawful and unconstitutional'. Forcibly evicting tribal peoples from their ancestral lands has devastating impacts on their health and destroys their livelihoods and self sufficiency. In Botswana's so-called 'resettlement' camps, Bushmen who have been removed from their land depend entirely on government handouts and frequently suffer from alcoholism, depression and many other illnesses.
Survival's Director Stephen Corry said today, 'Destroying tribal peoples and calling it 'conservation' is an echo of colonialism. It should not be allowed in the 21st century, and all true conservationists should be up in arms.'