MAUN: Government has mobilised the army and Special Support Group (SSG) to monitor and patrol elephants’ encroachment and destruction of the veterinary fences in the Hainaveld farms area.
This revelation was made by the chairman of Hainaveld Farmers Association, Phillip Wright during a meeting addressed by UNDP sustainable land management (SLM) project implementing team at Riley’s Hotel on Tuesday.
Wright revealed that there are 90 Botswana Defence Force (BDF) officers and an SSG contingent who patrol the Hainaveld livestock protective zone and the Gantsi veterinary fence.
Wright said the officers were stationed in the area to prevent rising vandalism and stealing of the wire mesh of the protective zone fence by members of the public.
He said in Gantsi there is a concern after elephants recently destroyed a fence separating Gantsi from Ngamiland which resulted in cattle from the FMD infested district straying into the Gantsi side.
Wright said the Gantsi District which is the mainstay of the country’s beef sector has to be protected from any potential FMD spread from Ngamiland.
District wildlife co-ordinator Obert Mabutha confirmed the development to Mmegi. He said their role in patrolling will be to stop the fence vandalism and report any sighting of the elephants along the fences.
Mabutha said all the cattle which had crossed from Ngamiland to Gantsi were driven back, adding that the situation has been normalised.
During the SLM meeting, the farmers complained about alarming numbers of elephants encroaching into the Hainaveld farms area.
They said the elephants are responsible for the spread of FMD adding that as long as there is no solution to stop these elephants, there will be no agriculture in Ngamiland.
A farmer Kegaisamang Ramokwena cried that the battle will not be won as long as the number of elephants in the district continued to rise.
He said all the existing mitigation strategies to stop the marauding elephants are not working at all.
Ramokwena said: ’’The chilli pepper strategy to deter the elephants is too cumbersome to use in our big farms and elephants do not fear chilli.’’
The farmer stated that the only solution to stop the elephants is shoot to scare them when they come in the vicinity of the farms.