Conservation in Botswana

Botswana is arguably one of the leaders in conservation in the world. This success can be attributed to 3 strong positions coming from the leadership:

  1. Good governance and lack of corruption;
  2. Community involvement and empowerment in wildlife areas; and
  3. Zero tolerance for Illegal Wildlife Trade and mismanagement of our country’s natural resources.

We proudly hosted the Illegal Wildlife Trade Summit in Kasane whereby recognition of this truly global problem was made and continued long term impetus was pledged for global action at governmental level.

Yet despite this success, within the Southern African region poaching is a major threat to wildlife and it continues to escalate at an alarming rate. Botswana central to the regional effort in halting poaching, working alongside our neighbouring countries through joint anti-poaching commissions, sharing of information and joint field operations. However, being custodians of globally endangered species comes at tremendous levels of responsibility. Botswana requires budgetary empowerment to deploy even more sophisticated and innovative methods and equipment than those used by poachers.

Despite Botswana’s success in conservation, traditional donor channels are decreasing to almost nil, with the Netherlands donating Euro 800,000 for a forensic unit and just recently the Chinese government donating the equivalent of US1,700,000 towards the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism.

The irony is that as Botswana continues to be one of the few remaining safe havens for wildlife in the world, yet it is being penalised for its successes and middle income status by donor organisations.

These successes can be seen by the largest ever relocation of black rhino in Africa this year, whereby 1% of the total population was transferred to safe areas in Botswana from our neighbouring countries. The rhino relocation project began in 2000, and since then, 40 white rhino and 42 black rhino have been moved to safer areas and now roam freely.

Similarly, Botswana is home to the largest free roaming population of African Elephants in the world. It is estimated that 160,000 elephants are resident in Botswana, with 40,000 migratory herds passing through, this accounts for approximately 1/3 of the total global African elephant population. Sadly it is estimated that every day 96 elephants are poached, but we are proud to say that last year Botswana only lost 38 of our herd to poaching (in an entire year).

Botswana has moved from consumptive to non-consumptive tourism, which means that since last year there has been a country wide ban in hunting in all areas that are not privately owned game farms. Former concessions areas are being developed into tourism zones that through diverse tourism product development and CBNRM programs, revenue for the local communities continues throughout the year not just seasonally and brings employment to a far wider base.

The hunting ban will continue this year, due to successes reported, whereby previously declining populations of gemsbok, wildebeest, giraffe, and zebra have started to recover positively.