Botswana government, alongside the French Embassy and United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), launched a multi-million Pula wildlife conservancy project in Habu village this Monday.
Funded to the tune of P26 million and run by the village’s Elephant Development Trust, the scheme includes wildlife conservation, anti-poaching patrols, rangeland surveys, human-wildlife conflict mitigations, herding, and grazing management among many other activities.
Highlighting some of the results of past interventions run by the community trust, the organisation’s founder and coordinator, Mokadi Masedi said, “For the past four or five years, we have not had foot and mouth outbreaks in this area due to the herding and grazing management and range patrols.
“We have not for the past five years had an incident of an elephant killing a human being in this area because the elephants have realised that people are their friends.”
Over the next four years, FAO will manage the project in partnership with the government. Implementation will be carried out by FAO’s technical partner, Wild Entrust Africa, which according to FAO representative in Botswana, Dr. Rene Czudek, has gained invaluable experience working within the SADC region in recent decades.
“In time we hope this pilot project with Habu community will showcase the benefits of community-based natural resource management under a community conservancy model and that this will inspire a growing network of areas under similar management in Botswana and across the KAZA (Kavango-Zambezi) landscape,” added Czudek.
KAZA is widely considered the world’s largest terrestrial transfrontier conservation area and a biodiversity-rich functional ecosystem home to thousands of animal species and plants.
The area is under the management of five governments and their communities, namely: Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
However, although it is counted among the top preferred tourism destinations in Africa, the area is home to poor rural communities, whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, fishing, and hunting.
FAO maintains that communities in KAZA are not always able to meet their basic needs. Thus the new project will focus on the development of community-based organisations and conservancies that help manage community-owned land to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of locals.
In addition, Minister of Minerals, Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism, Philda Kereng said the project will drive the government agenda of balancing Botswana’s development initiatives.
“We also want to promote sustainable and legal exploitation of animal populations and indigenous rural populations while increasing and diversifying the protein supply for the benefit of the rural and urban population,” stated Kereng.
The Minister concluded, “The project will work towards securing a supply of alternative protein from livestock, fish, and legal bush meat as well as strengthening the legal and institutional framework for the sustainable management of wildlife.”