- 3000 cases between 2017 and 2019
- Gov’t has spent P124 million on compensation
- A person was killed by an elephant every week in November alone
Fifty Batswana have been killed by elephants in a period of 10 years and the government has spent over P124 million in compensation to the bereaved families, according to a report by the Ministry of the Environment, Natural Conservation and Tourism.
The Government of Botswana is currently embroiled in a bitter spat with some interested parties in the Western world who are criticising the country’s decision to curb the elephant population increases and expansion through lifting a controversial hunting ban that was introduced by former president Ian Khama. The war of words is most intense on social media where ordinary Batswana and Westerners trade vitriolic attacks.
Batswana and their government are of the view that Westerners are only concerned about the plight of elephants at the expense of human beings. Westerners are threatening to boycott the Botswana tourism, threats that Botswana and its citizens say will not make them change course.
A report by the ministry says incidents of human-elephant conflicts have been increasing in recent years, almost doubling between 2017/2018 to 2018/2019 from a little over 1500 cases to almost 3000 cases.
“This on its own shows that the rate at which humans and elephants are interacting in conflict has increased tremendously, leading to more calls from the communities for the elephants to be returned to their original ranges or be reduced,” reads the report.
“Between 2009 and 2018, thirty-six (36) people were killed by elephants and another seven injured. Between February 2018 and February 2019 alone, more than 14 people were killed by elephants within the settlements. For the month of November alone, a person was killed by an elephant every week.”
Since the beginning of 2019, three people – among them a 4-year old child – were killed by elephants. In 1993, the Government of Botswana introduced compensation for damages by wildlife in an effort to protect wildlife from retaliation. The rate of the compensation for damages caused by elephants was increased in 2013 from P4,083,260 in 2016/2017 to P24,000,000 in 2018/2019 as conflict between communities and elephants increased. From 2005 to-date, the government has spent over P124 million and projections are that the amount will increase with time.
Section 46 of the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act makes provision for the lethal removal of wild animals, including elephants, which pose a danger to human life and property and measures to reduce conflict such as electric fencing, provision of artificial water points, patrols and use of other deterrents such as chilli pepper have all been tried in the past.
However, communities have reported different success rates on the use of these interventions. No quotas are currently issued for hunting elephants. The government has said relocations have proved quite expensive.