Botswana: Government ignoring advice from game farming expert

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The Botswana government’s recent decision to allow local subsistence farmers to use their fields for game ranching came as a surprise to researchers, as expert advice for allocating industry-suited communities in the Boteti regions and Okavango have been ignored over the years.

A consultant-Landflow Solutions noted in its report that the cabinet in 2009 adopted the need to allocate land to residents for game farming along the eastern buffer zone of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve CKGR and the southern and western buffers of the Okavango Delta while the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) made similar advice in 2013.

The political reluctance has been linked to the government’s decision to turn a deaf ear to recommendations the cabinet approved years ago to allocate game ranches along the eastern buffer zone of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to Boteti and along the buffer zone of the buffalo fence in the southern and western buffer zone of the Okavango Delta.

Researchers from the University of Botswana, Okavango Research Institute (ORI) hoped that President Mokgweetsi Masisi would dust off the report and implement the recommendations of the report titled “National Land Use Map Review” as the government decides to deploy the game farming industry. to citizens.

A report that was adopted by the cabinet in 2009 under President Ian Khama has yet to gather dust under President Masisi. Under President Masisi, the government has proposed new game farming guidelines that will allow few individuals to farm game in their fields.

Director of ORI, Professor Joseph Mbaiwa, said it was surprising that the recommendations that have long been suggested to the government to allocate land along the buffer zone of the buffalo fence along the delta of the Okavango and in the eastern buffer zone of the CKGR have so far been overlooked. “Someone somewhere is not doing their job. What is stopping them from implementing,” Mbaiwa said.

He was quick to say that there was a lack of political will to take advantage of the lands which proved suitable for game farming. Mbaiwa said: “If the recommendations of the report are not implemented in high office and no one takes action against such an individual, it is a clear indication that a lack of political will is at play.”

In its report, Landflow Solutions, which was contracted by the government, said communities’ attitudes towards wildlife are negative because they derive little direct benefit from being close to the delta.

The report said the direct benefits of game ranches had the potential to reduce poaching incidents which were increasing every year.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) corroborated the views of the report in a research paper titled “Illegal Bushmeat Hunting in the Okavango Delta, Botswana” which was submitted to the government for set up a game farm along the bison fence.

“Game farming can boost employment, create economic output comparable to ranching. It can produce large quantities of legal and sustainable game meat and lead to increased wildlife populations. part of the demand for bushmeat in Ngamiland and generate more value per kilogram of game meat than hunting, especially if the Ministry of Wildlife and National Parks considers allowing trophy hunting on the ranch,” indicates the report.

The report also notes that there is a need for the government to help farmers set up game farms along the CKGR and along the Okavango Delta because game farming is expensive. The report says poaching incidents are likely to decrease when communities feel they have benefited directly from wildlife.

ORI landscape ecologist, Dr Gaseitsiwe Masunga is unaware of the reasons why the government has not considered implementing the game ranch recommendations.

“The allocation of game ranches along the eastern buffer zone to the CKGR at Boteti was possible as there is no movement of wildlife out of the CKGR.” Considerations for large wildlife corridors should be a priority when establishing game ranches along the south and west buffer of the bison fence. . The corridors will allow wildlife species to migrate to upland areas outside the delta. I don’t know why the government set the recommendations aside. The government should consider adopting the recommendations,” Masunga said.

Last year, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks issued guidelines for keeping wildlife in Masimo. According to the department, the initiative was aimed at bringing Batswana into game farming.

The department has started a pilot project where the department will capture animals from the wild and make them available to farmers. The wild animals that will be made available to farmers are impala, gemsbok, zebra and warthog.

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