Trauma coun­selling for ex-boko Haram hostages

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

MA­BELE — Sur­vey­ing her de­stroyed corn­field in north­ern Botswana, Min­sozie Ka­saira wishes for a re­turn to the days of ele­phant hunt­ing.

Un­til last year, vil­lagers like Min­sozie ben­e­fited from lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties be­ing given a quota of ele­phants that could be shot.

They of­ten sold the quota to spe­cial­ist hunt­ing com­pa­nies, with hunt­ing rights bring­ing in tens of thou­sands of dol­lars.

But Botswana, home to a third of all African ele­phants, im­posed an al­most com­plete ban on hunt­ing wildlife in Jan­uary 2014.

Now vil­lagers who lose crops to ma­raud­ing ele­phants must find a new way to pro­tect their liveli­hoods and re­place the in­come gen­er­ated by hunt­ing rights.

“All the years when ele­phants were hunted, it was not like this,” Min­sozie (35) a mother of seven chil­dren, said in the small vil­lage of Ma­bele.

“The first time I saw the dam­age, I was shat­tered. I thought, ‘The ele­phants have eaten it all, life’s not good any­more’.”

“As soon as we plant, the ele­phants take our crops. Last year we could get enough food from our field. Now it’s dev­as­tated. We don’t know what to do.”

Once the source of much-needed in­come, ele­phants have be­come a ma­jor nui­sance to vil­lagers living on the edge of Chobe Na­tional Park, where tourists come on sa­fari trips from around the world.

Tshekedi Khama, Botswanan En­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter, said the tourism in­dus­try was the way for­ward.

“Hun­ters only em­ploy peo­ple dur­ing the hunt­ing sea­son. (Tourism) is through­out the year, that’s why we pre­fer it.”

Hunt­ing of al­most all an­i­mals — by bush­men as well as over­seas vis­i­tors -- was banned by the Botswanan gov­ern­ment to halt the decline of spring­bok and other species hit by habi­tat loss and il­le­gal hunt­ing.

But some wildlife ex­perts and sa­fari op­er­a­tors fear the ban could be detri­men­tal.

Se­lec­tive killing “Hunt­ing of ele­phants can be used as a way of sus­tain­ably gen­er­at­ing rev­enue for ele­phant con­ser­va­tion,” said Ju­lian Blanc, from the Con­ven­tion of In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species (CITES).

“In many places, tourism doesn’t quite work... so hunt­ing is an op­tion avail­able to all gov­ern­ments, and many of them use it quite suc­cess­fully, as Botswana did for quite a few years.”

Ele­phant hunt­ing for plea­sure hit global head­lines in 2012 when it came to light that Spain’s King Juan Car­los had been on a hunt in Botswana dur­ing his coun­try’s eco­nomic cri­sis.

A pho­to­graph of him pos­ing with a ri­fle next to a dead ele­phant propped against a tree caused out­rage, even if sa­fari com­pa­nies say that hunt­ing can be part of a wider con­ser­va­tion plan.

“Dur­ing the hunt­ing times, it was se­lec­tive killing of the older bulls — the ones not breed­ing any­more,” Ger­hard Swanepoel, co-owner of Pan­golin Photo Sa­faris, based in Botswana, said.

“I will never say that I am pro­hunt­ing (but) we know there’s too many ele­phants in the Chobe area.

“Botswana is one of the lead­ing coun­tries in Africa when it comes to con­ser­va­tion. It is try­ing to pre­serve space and let them roam

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