Bobonong — Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr Fidelis Molao says that the recent lifting of the hunting ban will benefit farmers despite disapproval from some critics.
When officially opening Bobirwa Sub-district Show recently, Mr Molao said the lifting of the hunting ban, managed as it would be, may result in elephants especially retreating back to their habitat.
Mr Molao observed that without elephants trampling upon and destroying farmers' produce, farmers stood to benefit from their output.
He said farmers would also be spared the pain of destroyed boreholes by the elephants that were in great quantities.
The minister told show attendants that against the expected 57 000 population of elephants in the country, the jumbos had multiplied to an estimated population of 130 000.
Due to the huge numbers, the elephants leave their habitat in search of food and leave a trail of damages along the way.
Not only do they damage fields and boreholes, the animals also kill humans and thereby escalating human-wildlife conflict.
Noting that Botswana was currently receiving criticism from some in the world, the minister stood firm behind the lifting of the hunting ban and stated categorically that government would not flinch on the decision.
Mr Molao said elephants also destroyed the cordon fence meant to control livestock diseases, which he said could be detrimental to the beef industry.
"We like these animals, but we love our people more," he said.
Mr Molao allayed fears and dismissed allegations that government would allow everyone to take guns and shoot at any elephant on sight.
The minister also appealed for support from farmers saying the decision was for their benefit and the country at large.
Stating that government had reinstated picketers for repair and maintenance of cordon fence, Mr Molao appealed to farmers to help in that regard since the move stood to benefit them.
He reminded them of the debilitating ramifications of FMD in the zone and rallied them to guard jealously against any possible recurrence.
Though Zone Seven has been declared green by the World Organisation of Animal Health, the minister warned that farmers still needed permits to ferry their cattle outside the zone for slaughtering. Such animals should be properly tagged for ease of identification, he stated.
He also warned that animals could not be relocated from the zone to others for now.
Mr Molao explained that Botswana had satisfied requirements for a green zone and was certified as such in France, May this year.
Though cattle could be slaughtered at Botswana Meat Commission and other abattoirs around the country, the minister explained that such meat could not be sold to Europe. However, he revealed that government was still in negotiations with the European market about the status of the zone.
Although the zone is FMD free without vaccination, the minister said that the European market might seek to visit the country to assess the situation hence farmers had to guard against any potential recurrence.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>