The University of Botswana under the auspices of its Department of Adult Education led an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network for a workshop on human-wildlife interactions at the Mmadinare Main Kgotla on August 14, 2018.
SFA Network is a collective of researchers, educators and practitioners who acknowledge the need to work collectively across global contexts, disciplines and with communities in advancing the goal of ethically and successfully supporting development and sustainability in contexts negatively affected by the consequences of colonialism, globalization and climate change.
Consequently, the Mmadinare workshop brought together different stakeholders to map the way forward in relation to the management of wildlife especially elephants in the area. The theme of the workshop was: Creating Sustainable Community Partnerships.
The workshop was a sequel to a study carried out on the dynamics of human and wildlife interactions in the Mmadinare area in 2017, in which the University of Botswana in partnership with SFA Network ran a trial research to explore possible ways to sustain development through wildlife management.
Therefore, the aim was to share the results with all stakeholders in government, non-governmental organisations, private and parastatal organisations to ensure the Mmadinare community, and many other similar communities benefitted from the elephant population in their areas.
As was the case with the research, the workshop created a space whereby many perspectives were heard, and knowledge shared. Thus, during the workshop community voices, political and economic perspectives, ecological findings, and an artistic representation of the project to date resonated together. It was designed in such a way that it was both informative and transformative.
During discussions, the residents decried the conflict elephants caused and the dangers they posed to people and called for different ways to mitigate the situation to achieve a harmonious co-existence between the jumbos and people. Botswana has an estimated population of 130 000 elephants and people in areas such as Mmadinare have to constantly deal with property damages and human injury.
To mitigate the situation, some residents suggested culling to control the numbers which they complained were too way high for the area, while others called for the setting up of an elephant abattoir in Selebi Phikwe as another way of revitalizing the economic fortunes of the mining town. In addition, there was a suggestion that government should set up an educational park where residents could learn about various subjects on elephants to promote co-existence between the elephants and people.
Job creation could also be enhanced through other means such as hiring of escort guides, establishment of a game reserves and wildlife camps to help control and monitor movement of the jumbos.
In his keynote address, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor David Sebudubudu, reiterated UB’s quest to create partnerships and collaborations with communities and industry for shared solutions in dealing with a myriad of challenges that the country faced.
Professor Sebudubudu said knowledge and science had no boundaries, noting that UB believed communities must own solutions instead of imposing such on them. He advised the Mmadinare community to use elephants for economic benefit instead of wantonly killing them.
SFA Network representative, Professor Daniel Haydon, also underscored the importance of communities owning methodologies and the need to diversify stakeholders in addressing challenges. Professor Haydon also highlighted the lack of research methods that were all inclusive hence the challenge of bringing such differences together.