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Namibians throw weight behind Botswana’s in elephant debate

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Namibian NGOs support Botswana's position PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
Forty-two Namibian NGOs, including conservationists and researchers, have come out to express support for Botswana’s plan to open the debate for solutions to the high elephant population and human-wildlife conflict.

A Sub-Committee appointed by President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana recently made its recommendations in a White Paper regarding the hunting ban and human-elephant conflict.

We, as Namibian Conservationists, including environmental NGOs, researchers, community representatives and conservancies, hereby join a group of international conservationists in voicing our support for Botswana’s consultative process to address the challenges associated with managing its large elephant population. We applaud President Masisi and Botswana’s parliament for establishing the consultative process that looks to balance wildlife conservation with the needs and aspirations of the citizens of Botswana.

Namibia has felt the burden of international pressure against our policies that encourage the devolution of rights over, and sustainable use of, natural resources. We therefore take this opportunity to stand in solidarity with Botswana. We would like to draw your attention to an article entitled “Botswana has Found her Voice about Elephants – but Will we Listen” by Gail Potgieter* that sets forth the following important issues that have not been highlighted in other media reports covering this story.

President Masisi’s establishment of the subcommittee to conduct a thorough Social Dialogue is a welcome move towards a more democratic style of governance.

Masisi’s administration once more opened the research permit application system, which signals

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his understanding of the role of objective conservation research in finding new solutions to human-elephant conflict.

The process embarked upon by Masisi’s administration is a welcome return to Botswana’s historic emphasis on consultation with people at the grassroots level. This also presents an opportunity to strengthen Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) in the country. As Namibian organisations with extensive experience with the CBNRM programme in our country, we are especially interested in extending our support regarding point 3 above. This new dawn for Botswana will present many challenges and opportunities as the government once more involves local communities in wildlife management and conservation.  We are therefore ready and willing to assist the government of Botswana in these important endeavours by drawing on the lessons we have learned in Namibia.

(Namibian Chamber of Environment, and 42 member and partner organisations).List of supporting organisations include; African Conservation Services, African Foundation, Brown Hyena Research Project Trust, Cheetah Conservation Fund, Desert Lion Conservation Trust, Kwando Carnivore Programme, Namibian Associations of CBNRM Support Organisations, Namibia Biomass Industry Group,  Namibia Professional Hunting Association, Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society, Southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment  and Sustainable Solutions Trust.

*Mmegi published Gail Potgieter’s article in its edition last week



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