Ma­raud­ing jum­bos trig­ger Botswana hunt­ing de­bate

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

around like old days.”

Mike Chase, co-founder of Ele­phants With­out Bor­ders, be­lieves al­most no ele­phants were poached in the coun­try last year.

“Th­ese an­i­mals are highly in­tel­li­gent. When they’re be­ing dis­turbed in an­other area, they will move to where they know they’re go­ing to be safe,” Chase said.

“And in the case of Botswana, lots of our ele­phants are es­sen­tially po­lit­i­cal refugees, flee­ing per­se­cu­tion in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.”

Af­ter fly­ing over the coun­try for 100 hours, Chase cal­cu­lates that 130,000 ele­phants live in Botswana — of a to­tal pop­u­la­tion in Africa of 470,000.

But across the con­ti­nent, 20 000 to 30 000 ele­phants are killed ev­ery year by poach­ers sup­ply­ing the Asian mar­ket — mainly China — which highly val­ues ivory prod­ucts.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Khama is determined to pre­serve Botswana’s record on pro­tect­ing its ele­phants.

“The ele­phants will find refuge in this coun­try, and we will con­tinue to as­sist, be­cause if we don’t look af­ter the species, who’s go­ing to?” he said.

For Amos Mabuku, chair­man of the Chobe en­clave con­ser­va­tion trust, the gov­ern­ment has forgotten the ev­ery­day re­al­ity that there are too many ele­phants near vil­lages like Ma­bele.

“The at­ti­tude of lo­cal peo­ple has changed, it’s be­com­ing neg­a­tive,” he said.

“We used to tell the com­mu­nity ‘con­serve ele­phants’, so that you get profit. But now why con­serve?” he said. — AFP

TOURISTS look at ele­phants in the wa­ters of the Chobe River in the north­east of Botswana.

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