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Family mourn as elephant kills another man

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Family mourn as elephant kills another man

A family mourning the passing of a loved one, gored to death by an elephant.

It is a familiar scene in Ngamiland and it played out again last weekend.

For the family ofGonewamangLishoniLekgowa, a 36-year-old poler killed by an elephant in Ditshiping on Sunday (22 September), the news of his sudden passing hardly came as a surprise.

“We co-exist with these animals. For many years we have been living in peace with them. But in recent years these animals have been killing our people. We all know that our area is just an open tomb, a graveyard. Anytime we can be attacked and killed in an instant. It is not only the bush that is not safe, they attack us even at our doorstep!” reflects the deceased’s younger brother, GaoganebathoLishoniLekgowa.

His eye’s red raw with grief, there is a sense of resignation as Gaoganebathotalks about his brother’s death.

“I don’t know whether to call it fear or what, but such is life in Ditshiping. We are used to it. We live to die.”

Gonewamangwas killed as he hurried home from the riverside, where he worked as a poler for the Okavango Kopano Mokoro community tourism project.

Taking over the narrative, the deceased’s cousin, Luke Motlaleselelo revealed Gonewamang was on his way to meet his brother when he ran into an elephant that had been terrorising villagers earlier in the day.

According to Motlaleselelo, who is also an area councilor and a professional guide, Gonewamang was alone when the incident occurred and thus there were no witnesses.

Family mourn as elephant kills another man
NARRATING: Motlaleselelo

“He was found later by the same group he had left at the river lying dead in the bush. They suspected he was killed by the elephant which had earlier charged at some lucky residents who escaped unharmed.”

The elephant was hunted down the following day and executed.

Motlaleselelo, who was at the scene when the beast was shot down, explained it was easy to spot the offending animal.

“We identified the killer elephant easily because it had isolated itself from the others. It also had blood stains on its trunk and tusks.”

At the time of going to print, the deceased man had been taken for post mortem to confirm if the deep wounds cutting across his stomach, chest and thighs were indeed caused by an elephant.

“It is important for the postmortem to be carried out because the incident happened during elections time. We do not want people to speculate and start accusing politicians of rituals. We want the investigations to be done for justice to take its cause,” explained Motlaleselo.

The deceased, according to family members, is survived by two younger siblings.

“His father passed on two years ago, so he was the one who was taking care of his father’s homestead. He was a hardworking young man who participated in community projects. He sold fish and was a canoe poler. He was a friendly person who loved making jokes,” said his aunt, 71-year-old Bodule Lekgowa.

Family mourn as elephant kills another man
SHOCKED: Lekgowa

Gonewamang was buried on Sunday at Wenela ward in Maun.

He was killed two days after eight hunting licences were issued through a raffle held at Maun main kgotla.

It is said 5, 000 people applied forthe licences but only eight were granted.

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Elephant mortality in Okavango rises to 110, Anthrax ruled out

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Wildlife and National Parks department has ruled out Anthrax as a killer disease for elephants along some villages in the Okavango delta.

As of Friday last week, at least 110 dead elephants were discovered in areas of Seronga, Gunotsoga and Eretsha in the past three weeks and were suspected to have died from Anthrax.

However the Anthrax laboratory tests have come back negative, leaving the government departments searching for more answers. 

“Laboratory results have ruled out Anthrax and we are awaiting more results,” explained regional Wildlife coordinator in Maun, Dimakatso Ntshebe.

Ntshebe said his department through the help of veterinary department services are still conducting further tests to find out whether or not this mysterious disease is not a result of poisoning.

The disease according to Ntshebe causes the giant’s front legs to weaken and therefore the unwell animal walks in uncoordinated manner and ultimately drops to its death.

“We don’t know what could be the cause of this disease but we are working around the clock to find out and hopefully work on the cure,” added Ntshebe.

Some samples are to be sent to South Africa for further testing. “We could have taken other samples to the neighbouring Zimbabwe, but because of COVID-19 that brought everything to almost a standstill, we could not send them,” Ntshebe explained before adding that, “before coronavirus outbreak, Botswana and Zimbabwe were in talks and have entered into some agreements including exportation and importation of certain medications, but we have not yet concluded the matter regarding samples, that is why we have not been able to send samples to Zimbabwe.”

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SADC Executive Secretary disturbed by obstacles in movement of goods

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The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Stegomena Lawrence Tax, has cautioned member states that any lack of cooperation among then during the COVID19 era has potential to reverse the gains made in the last decades.

Addressing a virtual SADC Council of Ministers meeting this week, Lawrence Tax said that the regional ministers approved Guidelines on Harmonization and Facilitation of Movement of Essential Goods and Services across borders early April. 

She said that whilst the guidelines have played a critical role in facilitation of movement of essential goods, there are notable obstacles that have been noted by the Secretariat.

The obstacles include non-compliance/non recognition of regional legal frameworks; uncoordinated operations at the port of entry among border agencies; lack of harmonization and synchronization of policies and procedures among, and between member states; unilateral decisions outside agreed framework; as well as different approaches to deal with epidemiological challenges,” she said. 

She added that; “all these are resulting in increased cost of doing business, and negatively affecting the implementation of national and regional programmes”.

She advised that there is need to have measures, and coordinated approach in place since the region is in a post lockdown period since the transportation of non-essential goods and services will be resuming.

Lawrence Tax added that COVID19 is a global pandemic and that the SADC regional approach should expand to COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and eventually to other continental blocs.

“The Secretariat is already working with COMESA and EAC, specifically, in terms of harmonizing and synchronizing regulations and procedures for movement of goods and services under the Tripartite arrangement. We need to move in unison and avoid unilateral decisions, specifically with regards to cross border movement of goods and services,” she said.

According to the Executive Secretary, the regional office has already conducted a socio-economic impact analysis of COVID19 on the region and the results have shown that the pandemic will impact negatively across many socio and economic sectors.

“The decline in the global economy is projected to lead to a decline in commodity prices, increase in debt and significant contraction of the SADC economies in 2020. This will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years,” Lawrence Tax said.

On the flip side,  the region’s International Cooperating Partners have made pledges to mitigate the impact of COVID19 pandemic on its economy. 

“To date, the Secretariat has secured Euro 7.3 million from the German Government; Euro3.6million from European Union, Euro 190,000.00 under the GIZ/Africa Union Commission, whereas the African Development Bank (AfDB)  has considered a support UA 7 million. Engagements with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) are also at an advanced stage,” the Executive Secretary said.

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