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 The Department of Wildlife and National Parks is faced with challenges of controlling human/wildlife conflict due to limited human resources.

The chairperson of Boteti Sub-district Council, Mr Solomon Cornelius said on Monday during the Sub-council session held in Letlhakane that the movement of elephants has stretched towards communal areas, resulting in excessive damage to human property. This, he said, happened predominant in Boteti West constituency. Mr Cornelius noted that from October to December 2015, 95 cases were recorded and no payment was made. “Cumulatively there are at least 833 cases awaiting payment,” he said. He added that compensatory payments owed to beneficiaries amounted to P1 608 708, citing that the department has forwarded funds request to the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism and awaiting response.

Furthermore, he said the government of Botswana has entered into a partnership programme with the World Bank under global environmental facility to undertake the Northern Botswana human/wildlife co-existence project. In the Boteti Sub-district, the project is being piloted in the villages of Khumaga and Moreomaoto. The project aims at mitigating human/wildlife conflict through proactive human/wildlife conflict prevention strategies and skills development. Mr Cornelius said the project would strengthen the Department of Wildlife and National Parks overall operational capacity and assist subsistence farmers to mitigate wildlife conflict through proactive prevention strategies.

The preventive strategies include the use of chilli pepper to deter elephants from raiding ploughing fields, the use of herding dogs to guard against predators, construction of kraals as well as ploughing of early maturing seeds and bee keeping. He noted that to date at least 19 dogs have been distributed and all have been sterilised, adding that food for guard dogs is provided by the project at seven kilogram per dog every two weeks. Mr Cornelius said five predators proof kraals were constructed and completed by the Northern Botswana Human Wildlife Conflict project and two extra kraals were constructed by Botswana Predators Conservation at Menoakwena and Nxwee using natural materials.

The panels for one extra kraal at Menoakwena were worn out, hence maintenance of the said kraal was done. He stated that 14 packaged bee hives were purchased and nine were given to the beneficiaries. Mr Cornelius said so far 81.5 kilometers of Makgadikgadi electric game proof fence has been mended through the help of extra mural personnel from prisons as well as Department of Wildlife and National Parks. He attributed the slow progress in maintenance of the fence to constant destruction of the fence by elephants and hippos as it divides their habitants.

The meeting was also informed that government was still in consultation with the communities of Khumaga, Moreomaoto, Motopi, Makalamabedi and Rakops concerning re-alignment of Makgadikgadi fence. (BOPA

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