Southern African heads of state in particular those affected by high elephants population meet next week Tuesday in Kasane to decide how best people can co-exist with species.
Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila called the press Tuesday to sensitise the public about upcoming elephant summit billed for May 3 to 7th.
Under the theme ‘Towards a common vision for managing southern Africa’s elephants’, the summit will be preceded by the technical meeting on May 3rd of eminent persons in science who know about elephants, while on 5th May SADC ministers of environment will meet around the issues of CITIES.
CITIES Conference of Parties (CoP) was supposed to take place in Sri Lanka at the end of May, but has since been postponed. “But as SADC, we have to meet and discuss our position going towards that CoP, While on May 6th ministers of Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Area (KAZA) will have their meeting together with South Africa who have been invited as they are part of the area in terms of the elephant population.
“We will be discussing what our technical people would have arrived at in terms of solutions and proposals feeding into the summit on the 7th where the heads of state will take a decision on everything else”.
Mokaila said while elephants are a topical issue especially after the Cabinet sub-committee on Hunting Ban, it’s imporgtant to indicate that culling has never been an option of government.
Mokaila said there are three main reasons why President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi decided on a summit to Botswana to talk about elephants.
The first is to raise awareness about Southern Africa case for elephants and how our people live and conditions thereof. “I think that must be put in full view of the world”. The second is to exchange ideas on human- elephant conflict, citing the everyday cases in which Batswana complain of suffering family loss because of elephants.
The third reason was finding sustainable solutions for the challenges that are presented by elephants. From around 1991, our elephant population was estimated around 55 000, but today we talk of 150 000 elephants.
“You can all see that there is a problem emerging just out of that. Botswana population just as well has grown from 500 000 in 1966 to 2 million now, and one could probably argue that our land must have shrunk in the sense that climate change itself has created less areas that are favourable for the other things that Batswana used to use for their livelihoods”. Southern Africa is home to 60 percent of the world population of elephants.