Controlled hunting could reduce human-wildlife conflicts
Professor Joseph Mbaiwa from Okavango Research Institute (ORI) has advised the government to lift hunting ban on elephant and buffalos as a way of reducing human wildlife conflicts which is prevalent in North West and Chobe districts.
Addressing the Botswana Guiding Association Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Maun last Friday, Mbaiwa said there is no doubt that elephant population has gone up tremendously in the last decade, thus increasing human wildlife conflicts. Botswana is currewntly home to an estimated 230,000 elephants. He said such increase leads to damage to crops. “ Farmers are not happy because elephants are destroying their farms. We need to deal with the issue of human wildlife conflicts,” he said.
Mbaiwa said there are more than 1500 elephants in the fragile Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) ecosystem, adding that the number of elephants in Ngamiland has surpassed the carrying capacity. He warned that soon elephants will cause a vegetation crush and Botswana will become grassland if nothing is done to reduce them. He said as a solution government must introduce selective hunting on some wild animals such as elephant and buffalos in Ngamiland. He said this should exclude species such as rhinos and others that are declining. Hunting has always been used as a management tool.
Meanwhile, Professor Mbaiwa said even though tourism is the future for economic diversification it has several challenges. He said the tourism policy of 1990 is old and needs to be revised. “It is out of context and no longer serves the needs of the industry,” he said, adding that Botswana tourism industry needs to be competitive at global level and require a robust policy for direction. There is need for diversification of tourism industry such as sports, culture, urban tourism and others which are not given sufficient attention, he said. This will ensure that tourism is not concentrated in the northern parts of the country where it is control by a few companies. The Professor observed that revenue leakages outside Botswana are significant because tourism companies operting in the country are foreign owned with 70 percent of the revenue lost. Professor Mbaiwa expressed concern that in the last five years Government decisions were made through a lot of Directives without support from scientific evidence as they were informed by emotions.