FRANCISTOWN: Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Kitso Mokaila is coy about when government would implement its promise to erect an electric fence to stem the tide of problems caused by elephants.
With the human-wildlife conflict, especially elephants continuing to be more of a bane in some parts of the country, government has been non-committal on when to implement elephant control measures.
Mmegi contacted Mokaila to make a follow up on President Masisi ‘s recent statement on elephant problems at Matsiloje kgotla during the village’s centenary celebrations.
Giving a keynote address then, Masisi said that he was aware of the problems faced by farmers at Matsiloje, Matopi other villages in the northeast district and many around the country as a result of wildlife, especially elephants.
He had said then: “I acknowledge that over the years elephants have been giving farmers various problems that invariably affect your livelihoods. It is government’s intention to manage human-wildlife conflict. Government will continue to negotiate with the public about how to solve these problems”.
The President then revealed that the government has a national elephant plan to address the issue of human-wildlife conflict.
“I know that the building of Dikgatlhong Dam, which is in your vicinity has also compounded your problems because elephants go there to drink water. Some of you lose a lot after the ploughing season because the elephants eat your crops and in some cases destroy property at the fields,” said a worried Masisi.
“The elephants also destroy the border fence making it easy for cattle infected with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) from Zimbabwe to cross the border into Botswana infecting your cattle in the process. As a result of that, the government will electrify the fence at Matopi to control the movement of elephants,” said Masisi.
“The government will also look at the possibility of electrifying the fence at Matsiloje in order to control the movement of elephants and minimise their chances of destroying people’s property. Nonetheless, I praise you for being resilient over the years despite what befell you,” he added.
When Mmegi asked Mokaila if government still had plans to erect an electric fence at Matopi as Masisi had said, Mokaila briefly said: “The plan to erect an electric fence at Matopi is still alive.
We are still exploring it”.
Asked further if government was still mulling to erect another electric fence along the Botswana-Zimbabwe border at Matsiloje, Mokaila said plans were afoot to erect electric fences at some places around the country to control movement of elephants.
However, Mokaila explained that the erection of electric fences would be guided by scientific studies and would not be erected just because people were asking for them.
Pressed further to reveal the names of areas where the electric fences would be erected , Mokaila said: “I have the names of areas where the electric fence would be erected but I am constrained to tell you now because I am still doing something. I am just from a press conference that was addressed by President Masisi following his recent state visit to Kenya.”
After Masisi’s address at the celebrations, Tati East legislator, Guma Moyo, who is now in self-imposed exile, praised the President for coming up with a solution that would untangle the conundrum of human-wildlife conflict caused by elephants.
Guma, who has been a vocal proponent of controlling the destruction caused by elephants in his constituency and other areas around the country in parliament, reiterated that over the years, elephants have been giving farmers sleepless nights forcing them to incur a lot costs. He added that Masisi’s decision to erect the electric fence would come in handy to the farmers.