The government of Botswana on Thursday convened a one-day National Human and Wildlife Conflict Pitso (“pitso” means “calling” in Tswana language) with several ministries to engage stakeholders on human-wildlife conflict concerns in the country.
“The issue of human-wildlife conflict is of great concern to the government of Botswana; it strikes at the core of the livelihoods of rural communities whose basic sustenance is centered on farming,” Philda Kereng, minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, said at the consultative meeting in the capital of Gaborone.
From 2018 to 2022, a total of 46,132 incidents involving problem-causing animals were registered across the country, with elephant-human conflict situations increasing as the elephant population grows and expands their territory. About 61 people were killed, 54 were injured, and elephants were responsible for 41 percent of damage to farmers’ crops and fields, boreholes, water tanks, and fences. The Botswanan government has so far paid out about 124 million pulas (about 9 million U.S. dollars) in compensation for wildlife damage, said Kereng.
Botswana is rich in nature and wildlife, including a growing elephant population estimated at between 130,000 and 200,000. The elephant’s range, once limited to northern Botswana, is shrinking due to increasing populations. Elephants have been sighted and reported outside their natural range.
The national pitso follows a series of mini-pitso discussions held countrywide in May and October with stakeholders including district authorities, farmers, community-based organizations and research institutions.
Kereng emphasized the importance of stakeholders and policymakers sharing their collective experiences on key issues related to human-wildlife conflict and recommending solutions to promote peaceful coexistence between humans and elephants, as well as efforts to reflect on best management practices to address these issues.
Moemi Batshabang, acting director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, said elephants, lions and leopards account for more than 75 percent of human-wildlife conflicts, and if they could manage these three animals, it would solve a lot of problems.