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Masisi, never fold your arms!

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 09 October 2018   |   By Thomas Dust Nyoni
Masisi Masisi

THOMAS DUST NYONI

ACE ON NATURAL RESOURCES

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Detractors and naysayers will use anything in their power and expend resources to frustrate your efforts in management and conservation of our natural resources. It is common knowledge that some have huge interest in that area. Masisi’s forthright response is meeting the challenge pound for pound, and his efforts are commendable.  My spirits are high! Very high! You see Eric, I liked your approach to resolving the elephant controversy. Consultation with key stakeholders in the management and conservation of natural resources to get different opinions is the best approach. It is an established truism that tackling a problem from different loci leads to a better understanding. Species conservation will be more effective if it is based on good science and reliable evidence but too often this is not the case in the leadership.  It is regrettable that a large proportion of conservation interventions have hitherto been based on experience, opinion or even anecdote, and not evidence. You see wildlife management is not an easy task, you don’t bring a former first brigadier to manage it, or someone from a royal clan to say this how the game is played. No! You need fundamentals.

 Wildlife management attempts to balance the needs of wildlife with the needs of people using the best available science. Wildlife management can include game keeping, wildlife conservation and pest control. Wildlife management draws on disciplines such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, ecology, climatology and geography to gain the best results. Wildlife conservation aims to halt the loss in the Earth's biodiversity by taking into consideration ecological principles such as carrying capacity, disturbance and succession and environmental conditions such as physical geography, pedology and hydrology with the aim of balancing the needs of wildlife with the needs of people. These thieves who have looted most from the tourism industry believe that the wildlife should subsidise the rich entrepreneurs in Europe at the expense of local citizens. I am still shocked!

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Our wildlife conservation should be reformed to benefit even people in Gudikwa, Jackals, Tsetsejwe le ko Mhalapitsa tota. These criminals who are suddenly experts in wildlife management without formal education are dangerous players. They will fund any person without moral to distort, send wrong signals to the outside world about our wildlife. According to the National Policy and strategy for the conservation and management of elephants in Botswana, the elephant population is not threatened. Elephants play a huge role within any landscape where they occur and are considered habitat engineers. As charismatic species they awaken emotions among people like few others. As keystone species, they contribute significantly to the integrity of ecosystems and must be very carefully managed. From an economic perspective, they are also value generators. The impact of elephants on their surroundings can also lead to a decline in the Total Economic Value of the return on the ecosystem in general. If not managed properly, elephants can lead to environmental degradation. Such degradation could lead to a loss in ecosystem function (indirect use value), which not only implies a loss in ecosystem productivity and resilience, but also the need for ecosystem restoration. The damage to field crops by elephants that escape from conservation areas and the ensuing challenges between humans and elephants are a direct cost to the affected human community. Having said this Mr President, please note that in order to balance the same, consumptive use values ((e.g., elephant meat, ivory, trophy hunting) of elephants should be promoted. In the meantime whilst we are awaiting proper elephant counts by the department of wildlife and national parks NOT from that “rogue researcher” we can allow hunting in such communities. Available literature has shown that trophy hunting occupies a spatial niche that is complementary to and does not oppose or displace wildlife viewing tourism.

Therefore Mr President the inclusion of elephants in trophy hunting quotas adds significant value to trophy hunting tourism. In addition to the elephant trophy fees, income from daily hunter fees is enhanced by the inclusion of a high-value elephant in the hunting bag. Such approach is likely to increase benefits of elephants within the ecosystem from a tourism perspective include direct income to households through employment, ownership, or equity in tourism-linked businesses, as well as foreign exchange earnings for the government, and government income through taxation of individual earnings, sales taxes and corporate taxes The issue of human elephants conflict should be addressed Mr President, I like your position that we Batswana like our Elephants, and we will protect them. Human–elephant conflict (HEC) has been identified as one of the most serious threats to elephants not least because where elephants persist they are often forced into close contact with people and contemporary social conditions often lower people’s tolerance of elephant Losing their natural habitats, functional corridors, and the resulting reduction in the availability of resources, are pushing species like elephants to adapt to changing environments. This adaptation in species like the elephant, which are 'habitat generalists' capable of surviving on a wide variety of landscapes and palates, is causing them to wander into areas of human use.

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Incidents in which elephants enter anthropogenic landscapes can sometimes result in a human-elephant conflict, which poses a serious management concern to government agencies engaged in wildlife conservation, and DWNP researchers should attempt to identify sustainable solutions. To avoid retaliatory killing of elephants, conservationists need to increase people’s tolerance of elephants, and this will require reducing the impact of crop depredations. This calls for site-specific approaches. Past interventions have failed us Mr President. Let’s equip DWNP research to bring novel approaches to the solution. They are capable. A very important element in any such resolution is understanding the behavioral ecology of the species, with an emphasis on its distribution, patterns of movement over time, and seasonality of dietary habits in these contexts. Rather than choosing expensive solutions to prevent elephants from going out of protected areas, such as electric fences, the team explores new solutions, such as joint monitoring plan, crop/livelihood changes, and education programme and beehive fence control. The research division should work closely with the CSO department to bring in novel approaches to reducing elephant problem. There are devising other methods. As they have failed in propagating untruths about the elephant situation in Botswana. They are likely to bring other strategies into play. Last, Mr President, institute a commission of enquiry to find out who has major shares in these wilderness areas and how revenues accrued therein are invested back into the economy. Ba ja ba le nosi, ga ba sena go kgora ba re rekela di soup le diphaphatha!



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