Sunday Standard (Botswana)

John Regonamanye

17 Dec 2018

The animal-human conflict in the northern part of Botswana has been spreading like wildfire in the past decade. From human causalities caused by elephants and other animals to animal deaths caused by dwellers in that region, there has been immense loss on both ends of this rope.

In a bid to reduce human-animal conflict, the government has since decided to set aside some millions of Pulas for compensation to the affected.

This week, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Kenneth Matambo however came under over his fiscal approach that tends to favour wildlife animals over the welfare of human life.

On Thursday Matambo opened the already burning wounds of Members of Parliament when he requested funds amounting to P12,000,000 to be allocated the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism for drilling and equipping boreholes to provide water for wildlife animals.

“Mr Speaker following declaration of the country as drought stricken for the year 2017/18, Presidential Directive authorized that P42,000,000 be set aside to subsidise livestock feed under the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security. The Directive also instructed that P12,000,000 be allocated to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism for drilling and equipping of boreholes to provide water for wildlife bringing the total to P54,000,000,” Matambo noted on Thursday

“Mr Speaker this contentious issue of wildlife-human life conflict has been going on for sometime now. If I am the owner of cattle and there are many and troubling the neighbours the best option is for me is to cull them or sell them to make money,” argued the opposition MP for Molepolole South Tlamelo Mmatli, questioning the ownership of the wildlife animals who will not bother take such simple tasks.

An intervention by the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and public Administration Nonfo Molefhi did not help the situation as Mmatli opined the drilling and equipping of boreholes was not a plausible move.

“If you are having a spilling number of animals the best move is to cull them or sell them,” he responded to Molefhi who saw the drilling and equipping of boreholes important to keep the wildlife animals intact in  one place via the watering point.

For his part, Nata/Gweta MP – Polsen Majaga said that he is also aggrieved by the cruelty of the wildlife animals in particular the elephants and the buffaloes. Majaga said that the Botswana Government appears to be giving priority to the animals over human life.

“Of late I attended a funeral in my area with the deceased killed by a roaming elephant while another suffered a similar fate this time around by a buffalo,” Majaga said.

Another ruling party MP – Samson Guma Moyo said,“For us it is not a question of water. We have adequate waters for the animals but they just encroach into our lands and communities killing us and destroying our crops,”

Guma added, “What we want is an electric fencing budget. For us we have adequate water in Ntimbale dam for these animals. These elephants just come from Zimbabwe cross the border and kill our people and destroy our crops”.

Meanwhile a sum of P32,000,000 has been requested as supplementary budget while the balance of P22,000,000 will be reallocated from other projects under the two Ministries, Matambo said before Parliament endorsed unanimously the Supplemantary Estimates of Expenditure from the Consolidated and Development Funds for 2018/19.