Botswana: Olopeng Speaks On Elephants

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Francistown — The review of the hunting ban imposed four years ago is not tantamount to wholesale slaughter of wild animals.

This was said by Tonota MP Mr Thapelo Olopeng during a series of kgotla meetings he addressed in the constituency this week.

He said the review was instead meant to control and manage wildlife, especially elephants.

Last year Botswana featured prominently in the international media after claims of the discovery of 87 elephant carcasses near the Okavango Delta, which have since been disproved by government.

The media reports also claimed an alarming increase in poaching, notably of male elephants, for their typically larger tusks.

Mr Olopeng, also Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, said the decision to temporarily ban hunting in 2014 was necessitated by information which indicated that several species were declining.

He said since the imposition of ban, the elephant herd had increased to 230 000 which had left the country struggling under the weight of devastation caused by the species and rising anger from Botswana's farming community.

Minister said Botswana had become a safe haven for elephant herds from neighbouring countries where poaching was rampant.

Batswana, he said, had signaled their support for lifting the hunting ban.

Mr Olopeng said even though tourism had grown dramatically since the ban came into place, lifting it would not affect the country's international reputation on conservation.

He explained that a report by a hunting ban presidential task force would be made public.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks official, Mr Jalini Tapela, told residents that farmers had the right to kill wild animals that destroyed their property or killed their livestock.

He advised them to always keep exhibits safely because they would be needed in assessing the damage caused by the animals.

In addition, he said injured wild animal should be reported immediately to the wildlife department or any other government agency.

For their part, residents complained about wild animals which destroyed their crops, particularly elephants.

They appealed to government to establish wildlife camps in areas with large elephant populations to control their movement.

Source : BOPA

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