Tsokatshaa — Tsokatshaa residents in the Nata/Gweta constituency have appealed for electrification of the fence which separates fields and the wildlife management area.
The appeal to the government was made through the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism by Tsokatshaa village elder Mr Ofolo Saiti on behalf of the Village Development Committee during a kgotla meeting on Tuesday.
Briefing Minister Philda Kereng, Mr Saiti said despite being under the category of Rural Area Dwellers (RAD's) efforts to uplift their lives through the agricultural sector were thwarted by wildlife in particular the elephants which often left their fields empty.
Mr Saiti lamented the destrruction of the drift fence by elephants making it easier for other animals' including domestic ones to graze in the ploughing fields.
This, he said had led to the villagers clashing with wildlife officers whenever they sought compensation as the officers suggested that the drift fence was not a government property hence they could not be compensated on that basis.
He said the response did not sit well with them because at the time the fence was installed it was said to be a community project hence they were bound to seek compensation to protect their produce.
Mr Saiti said it was time the fence was electrified with solar power so that they could as well enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Furthermore, Mr Saiti decried that wildlife officers took long to respond to reports of animal damages despite the service standards stipulating that a report should be lodged within a period of seven days of the incident. He said because of the delays, the exhibit ended up being destroyed.
At the same time, he pointed out that even though watermelons had better yields in their area they were not covered compared to other crops such as beans and maize.
He further stated that they were surrounded by concessions that do not benefit them.
Responding to the concerns, Minister Kereng said government was coming up with plans to address the situation by engaging the communities.
She said the role of farmers had been incorporated in the Elephant Management Plan which would be launched in Maun soon.
She highlighted the shortage of resources as a major issue that hampered service delivery, taking note of concerns by residents on the late response to reports by the wildlife officers. The minister was, however, confident that the situation would improve once they procure vehicles.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>