Daily News (Botswana)

Elephant talks today

The much publicised elephant conference kicks off in Kasane May 3 and will culminate in a Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) heads of state meeting on May 7.

Briefing the media April 30,  the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Mr Kitso Mokaila said the five-day conference held under the theme, Towards a Common Vision in Managing Southern Africa’s Elephants was to commence with a meeting of officials.

He explained that in today’s meeting, eminent persons knowledgeable about elephants would be led by Deputy Director for Research and Strategy in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Dr Cyril Taolo.

It would be followed by SADC environment ministers’ meeting on May 5 with focus on the 18th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES Cop18) issues. CITES Cop18 originally scheduled for May 23-June 3, in Colombo, Sri Lanka has since been postponed.

“But, as SADC, we have to meet and discuss our position as a bloc going towards that Cop,” said Mr Mokaila.

KAZA ministers, joined by South Africa, “as they are part of us, in terms of SADC”, he said, would meet May 6 to discuss the outcome of the officials’ meeting.

The minister’s meeting would  be feeding into the summit slated for May 7.

Mr Mokaila said the regional leaders would deliberate on finding sustainable solutions to the challenges presented by elephants.

Noting that the region had 60 per cent of the world population of elephants, the minister said the summit was also meant to present to the world how people lived with the challenges and exchange ideas on human-elephant conflict.

He revealed that President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi found the need to call the summit to generate a better understanding of elephant management and associated challenges.

Minister Mokaila said following  consultation by a cabinet task team, elephants had suddenly become a topical issue.

Government, he pointed out, had not yet taken a position  on whether it was going to implement all recommendations.

“I think we can all see that there is an emerging problem. Since around 1991 our estimated elephant population was around 55 000, but today, we talk of plus or minus 150 000 elephants and our population has also grown from half a million, in 1996, to two million now,” he said.

Mr Mokaila said culling had never been an option for the Botswana government, “but it is one thing that, internationally, everyone saw in the many recommendations that were there. We talk about the possibility of cropping”ENDS

Source : BOPA Author : Lorato Gaofise
Location : GABORONE Event : Media brief
Date : May 02 Thu,2019