The government of Botswana has denied Kenyan elephant conservation campaigner Jim Nyamu permission to walk through the country to South Africa citing current ‘sensitivities’ arising from the subject of elephant conservation.
Nyamu, who is the director of the Nairobi-based Elephant Neighbours Centre, started his 4 300 km elephant conservation journey from Kenya to South Africa by foot back in July. He has already walked through Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Nyamu entered Botswana early last week from Zimbabwe with the intention of walking through the country to South Africa. Before his journey ended, he posted a tweet saying he was leaving Tshesebe for Francistown.
However, his journey was allegedly cut short in a meeting with government officials who informed him that he should discontinue his walk in Botswana.
“I take this humble moment to appreciate all my friends, conservationists and supporters from Botswana for your love, wishes and support towards my grassroots elephant conservation awareness campaign walk. Unfortunately, I will not continue with the walk in Botswana as planned,” he said.
Nyamu made special mention of the guidance and assistance he got from local elephant conservation campaigner Mosetsana Moduwa during his stay in Botswana.
“I have to leave the country, and I wish you all the best in your conservation efforts, and I promise you that I will come back. I am leaving for Malawi where I had intended to walk after this. God bless you all,” he said.
On Sunday, he told the Botswana Gazette that the government officials he met said he could not walk through Botswana because of ‘the elephant issue.’ Asked if he tried to enter South Africa, Nyamu said: “I also tried, but it was hard as well.” Government spokesperson John Dipowe was not available for comment at the time of press as his phones rang unanswered.
He left Botswana through Kazungula border post and proceeded through Zimbabwe to Livingstone, Zambia where he celebrated his birthday on Monday. The Zambian government has invited him to walk through the country to reach Malawi early in November.
He walked into Botswana at the height of a damaging dispute over elephant poaching figures between government and Elephants Without Borders, which recently issued a report alleging an unusual spike in elephant poaching activity in the Chobe National Park.
The report has since been dismissed by the government as baseless and misleading. Botswana is also in the middle of countrywide public consultations on whether or not to maintain a hunting ban that has been in place since April 2014.