- UK-based movement joins protest
- Worried about harmful effects on fragile ecosystem
UK-based Extinction Movement has joined hands with Batswana abroad to publicise the protest against exploration and potential mining for oil and gas in the wildlife-rich Okavango Delta, The Botswana Gazette has established.
Dubbed “Save the Okavango Delta,” the protest comes after the Botswana and the Namibian governments granted Canadian company Recon Africa oil drilling rights along the main rivers that flow into the delta.
According to one Motswana based in the UK, Joy Crooke, at the top of concerns of the Extinction Movement is that exploration and mining for oil and gas inevitably risks polluting the delta and consequently killing the wildlife and harming people.
There is also strong conviction that oil exploration and mining have the potential to contribute to catastrophic levels of climate change, risking the death of billions of animals and people.
“We launched this campaign upon realisation that Batswana are silent about the mining project that has the potential to damage the world heritage site,” Cooke said in an interview with The Botswana Gazette. “The Botswana Government cannot tell us that they want to create employment yet it is busy with the project that might bring poverty in the long run.”
“We recently held a protest in front of the Canadian Embassy in order to lodge our concerns about this looming oil mining. We want this campaign to reach as many stakeholders in Botswana as possible as it could eventually click on this Canadian company that it should stop.”
The granting of exploration and mining permits to Reckon Africa has spawned a backlash from environmentalists and people of the Okavango who fear harmful effects on the fragile ecosystem.
While the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi, could not be reached, he attempted to dispel these fears earlier this year. Moagi told the local media that the company would carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment before any drilling could take place.
“Botswana will learn from drilling activities in Namibia, which is already upfront with activities of oil and gas mining by the same company that has been granted the rights (here),” he told journalists early this year.