Botswana is not using diamonds to kill elephants as alleged by some conservationists after the southern African country announced plans to lift a ban on elephant hunting to address growing conflict between humans and wildlife, a government official has said.
Minister of mineral resources, Green technology and energy security Eric Molale told a mining conference in Gaborone on Monday that the activists were tarnishing the image of Botswana. “That’s hogwash because we as Botswana are [good] conservationists and it is us who worked hard to make sure these elephants [are] brought to the numbers that we do have now,” he said.
“When conflicts arise, it is through consultation, [that we] find out how we can best manage our resources. The people have spoken and we are going to be managing the elephants in the best way that we can.
“We are not culling, we have re-introduced the trophy hunting and if you take 400 elephants per annum for trophy hunting against the 3-5% annual growth rate of the elephant herd that we have…[we are] just barely scratching on the surface.”
Botswana has about 130 000 elephants, the world’s largest population.Molale said Botswana will remain focused on things that are beneficial to the country and will not be distracted by issues spread by people that are not even privy to how things are done in the country.
“We have, however, invited them to come and learn more about what we are doing so they can better understand those important aspects of flora and fauna…”The conflict between humans and elephants had gone up since the ban was introduced in 2014.
Tourism is the second source of foreign income in Botswana after diamonds and conservationists fear that the former will be affected is the government cull elephant.
[Rough and Polished]
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Gov’t swiftly acts on BMC
Government has moved swiftly to place Botswana Meat Commission under the care of a management firm; the move is meant to put the Commission into shape both operationally and financially.
This was disclosed by Finance and Economic Development Minister, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, further stating the BMC is technically insolvent despite having received nearly P1billion as a bailout in recent times. The new management company will run BMC, which is based in Lobatse starting on the 2020/2021 financial year.
The finance minister made it crystal clear that, the move to appoint a caretaker firm for BMC was made to protect the interests of all stakeholders, including farmers. According to Matsheka, the Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Dr Edwin Dikoloti will provide more details on the BMC changes in due course during his committee of supply speech. Government is also proceeding with the conversion of BMC to a company under the Companies Act following the approval of BMC Transition Bill and subsequent repeal of the old Act.
The repealing of the BMC Act has since eliminated the monopoly of the Commission when it comes to beef and cattle export. The repeal has also enabled government to establish a beef regulator which will be responsible for regulating the beef and the cattle sector. “Another aspect of the transition is the ultimate privatization of BMC.
The objective of the privatization of BMC is, among others, to engage the private sector in the ownership and management of the BMC to achieve operational efficiency and profitability, as well as reduce Government’s future financial commitments in the entity. This would be an important process in the transformation of the beef and cattle sector,” noted Matsheka. BMC which is 100 percent owned by government has been operating with losses for many years due to internal and external challenges such as poor supply and Foot and Mouth Disease(FMD).