Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cultural tourism could diversify economy - tribal leader

Kgosi Kebatshwaretse Phetsogang of Mmatshumu in Boteti Sub-District has advocated for the inclusion of cultural tourism in Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) as a way of diversifying the economy of the country and creating employement.
''I saw it when we had gone on a benchmarking trip to Namibia; young ladies with exposed breasts nipples protuding eye catchingly, wearing their traditional clothes. They just stood there without a word. They had the company of an elderly woman who explained the meaning of their outfit to visitors. Whoever got information or photographed them paid,'' explained Phetsogang in an interview after the launch of Gumakutshaa Trust, a Community Based Organization (CBO) in Letlhakane last week.
He explained that even though the looks of the female body features may be tempting to men, it does not go anywhere near to sex work. These, he said are some of the possible types of tourism CBOs might explore to ensure diversification of projects. His comments followed a presentation by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Officer, Mmoloki Pule, who had adviced members of the new CBO that was launched that though they are near the Makgadikgadi where Avi Tourism is the most viable, exploring other opportunities was crucial.
Read more in the latest SundayStandard

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Birdlife Botswana empowers

Birdlife Botswana last week Thursday launched tourism oriented projects in Letlhakane, Boteti Sub- District by bringing various stakeholders to ensure beneficiaries do not go off track. Although several projects might be undertaken in the area given the villages’ proximity to pans (Makgadikgadi Pans) where birds breed, bird-led projects are the first to be counted on. Birdlife Botswana Director, Dr. Kabelo Senyatso, highlighted during the launch of Gumakutshaa Community Trust, a new Community Based Organization covering three villages of Mmea, Mosu and Mokubilo that after lengthy consultations with communities in the area they, helped them discover the fruitful resources within their locality.
Among those facilitating the event was the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), an institution
established by Act of Parliament in 2004 with the main focus on citizen empowerment through implementation of policies for promotion and development of Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). “Every entrepreneur needs to identify a sound opportunity. To identify opportunities, one needs to among others; collect information on resource base, collect information on opportunity identification exercises like brain storming. Read news papers and make observations as you travel and attend events,” explained Onalenna Mmatli, LEA Business Advisor based in Serowe.
He advised participants to create vision, determine what they are good at and what they would like to do.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Maun Educational Park not fraudulently obtained

Lands and Housing Minister Lebonaamang Mokalake has dismissed allegations of fraud by Tawana Land Board in transferring Maun Educational Park (MEP) into government ownership.
Answering questions in parliament on Tuesday, Mokalake said there is no fraud committed by the land board when leasing the land to government. “There is no sanction on Tawana Land Board,” said Mokalake.
Mokalake was answering Kgosi Tawana Moremi who is also the Maun West legislator.
In an ongoing tussle with government over MEP, Moremi asked Mokalake to explain whether the Land Board has documentation showing that MEP was the property of Fauna Conservation Society.
He asked the minister if he was aware that the same board had no record of transfer with regard to the MEP. He had also asked if any sanction was available for the fraud of the land board on the community of Ngamiland. The minister said the land board does not have any documentation that shows that the park was a property of Fauna Conservation Society.
“The land board does not have a record of the transfer with regard to Maun Educational Park,” he said.
Parliament learnt that the park was leased to government through a memorandum of agreement of lease.
“This was not in any way a transfer, but an allocation to the government. The certificate signed by Tawana Land Board chairman is that no customary rights existed with respect to the piece of land described in the lease,” he said.
Maun Educational Park has been a bone of contention between Batawana and government.
Last month, Voice Money reported that in October last year, Moremi approached the Office of the President seeking a reversal of the ownership of both the Maun Educational Park and the Moremi Game Reserve.
Batawana wanted the ownership to be handed back to Ngamiland Fauna Conservation Society which had been administering both areas on behalf of the tribe since 1963.
Batawana’s efforts to claim their property suffered a setback when government made some directives for some natural resources to be under government control.
In November 1971, the director of wildlife and national parks applied for additional land to increase the area of the Maun Zoological Park on behalf of the Fauna Conservation Society of Ngamiland.
The approval of the lease of the land was apparently communicated by the Tawana Land Board later in November 1972.
It is said the signing of the lease agreement did not entail any withdrawal of rights, hence Kgosi Letsholathebe or his successor were not consulted on such a matter.
To claim back their land, Batawana had a Kgotla meeting with the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama towards the end of last year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Community trusts face collapse as hunting ban bites

Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism has not yet delivered on its earlier promise that it would financially assist community trusts that were dependent on revenue from hunting during the duration of the hunting ban. In an interview with Sunday Standard, Onkeme Mmolainyana of Mababe Community Trust in Ngamiland revealed that when the hunting ban was imposed, officials from the Ministry came and assured them that it will not affect them in any way because the trusts will be given assistance so that they stay afloat.
‘’Officials from the ministry came and assured us that we will be assisted financially for a short period to help us during this transition from hunting safaris to photographic safari. That was the last time we saw them. They never came back to us and we have not been assisted in any way’’ he said.
He also revealed that the officers informed them that the money would be available immediately as it was to sourced from the National Environmental Fund. He said they were very hopeful that they would continue operating with no hurdles, only to be disappointed after the government officials failed to deliver on the promise.
Read more in the latest Sunday Standard

Friday, July 11, 2014

Latest Babbler Number 59

Report on Kwando Vulture poisoning investigation 16 November 2013
By J.W. McNutt, J. Bradley and P. Hancock
As previous report dated 21 August 2013 described an aerial investigation conducted on 19 August of a poisoned elephant carcass with nearby dead vultures in the Kwando Concession (NG14). Coordinates of the poisoning were originally communicated by Kwando Safaris to Pete Hancock. Photographs taken on 19 August from the air showed evidence of what appeared to be dozens of dead vultures around some skeletal remains of an elephant.
The 21 August report of this cursory aerial investigation written by Dr James Bradley, of Kalahari Research and Conservation, and Dr J.W. McNutt, Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, was disributed to interested stakeholders. Due to the photographic evidence of large numbers of dead vultures, the report emphasized the importance of further investigation on the ground. Ground investigation options were discussed with the concession holders, but prior to mid-November, an investigation of the remote site had not been organized and no ground investigation had been conducted.
Three ephant carcasses were located approximately 300m apart at wpts: 1) S18.21711 E23.19047, 2) S18.21698 E23.19336, and 3) S18.21864 E23.18891 (Map Datum WGS84).
1. Elephant Carcass 1: 286 dead vultures were estimated by counting, 228 individual pelvic structures were collected, and sculls used to identify species included 4 Lappet-faced and 2 Hooded Vultures (the remainder were presumed to be White-backed)
2. Carcass 2: 38 dead vultures were estimated by counting, 34 individual pelvic structures were collected, all were White-backed
3. Elephant Carcass 3: Two (2) White-backed Vultures were found
No tusks were present at any of these three remains. Two of the three skulls show evidence that tusks were chopped out probably by axe. All three carcasses showed evidence of having been burned. All three were <_150 a="" from="" nearby="" p="" track.="" vehicle="">Samples of a pink splattered substance found on the feathers of dead vultures lying beneath the largest tree 20m from the elephant carcass were collected for possible analysis and identification.
At the main poison site (Elephant Carcass 1) we estimated 286 dead vultures by counting carcass remains. From among those remains 228 individual pelvic structures were collected. Skulls were used to identify species and included to identify species and included 4 Lappet-faced and 2 hooded vultures (the remainder were presumed to be White-backed). At Elephan Carcass 2, 38 dead  vultures were estimated by counting, and 34 individuals pelvic bones were collected. All were White-backed vultures. Carcass 3, located 300m from carcass 1, was within 15m of the near by road (track) and only two White-backed Vulture remains were found. Although no tusks were present, we saw no evidence of chopping of the maxilla on this elephant skull.
It is possible that all three carcasses were poisoned, but the majority of the dead birds were found at Carcass 1. Another 38 vultures died at carcass 2. Both these carcasses were further from the road (>100m) than the third carcass. The date of the poisoning is unknown, and we have no knowledge of who burned the carcasses, nor whether any vulture carcasses were also burned at the same time. It is noteworthy that no dead vultures were found within 2-3m of the burned elephant remains at carcasses 1 and 2. Given the distribution of dead birds elsewhere in the vicinity, we consider it likely that an unknown and unrecoverable number of vulture carcasses were burned when the elephants were burned.
Therefore, our estimate is 326 dead vultures (collectively from all 3 elephant carcasses) represented by the remains of vulture carcasses still present on 16 November at least 6 months after they died is likely to be conservative. The absoluet minimum number of 264 dead vultures is based on collected and counted synsacrum bones.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The battle for Moremi Gami Reserve

Controversy is trailing the true ownership of the Moremi Game Reserve - a tourist's fortress near Maun. Member of parliament for Maun West Tawana Moremi is on a mission to have ownership of the reserve describe d by the Botswana Tourism Organisation as a ''gem of a national park'' - transferred back to Batawana community. On Wednesday the MP asked the lands minister Lebonaamang Mokalake if he is aware that sa of 1963 the land known as Moremi Game Reserve has been allocated and a grant made as per the Tawana Land Board minutes of  6-7 February 1978. ''Tribal land regulations section 20 (4) requires consent of the owner of rights over Moremi Game Reserve for any grants over the land,'' argues Moremi. Read more in Botswana Guardian.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Okavango Delta Listed as a Natural World Heritage Site

The 38th Session of the World Heritage Committee, which has been meeting in Doha this week, has agreed to the Inscription of the Okavango Delta as a Natural World Heritage Site. Below is the text of the Minister of Environement, Wildlife and Tourism, the Honourable Tshedkedi Khama’s, acceptance speech following the announcement.
On behalf of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Botswana Lt. Gen. SKI Khama, the government and the people of Botswana, I am happy to accept the status bestowed on our Okavango Delta, Natural World Heritage Site. This is evidence that the international community recognizes and acknowledges the natural outstanding universal values of the Okavango Delta.
Madam Chair, let me assure you that the government of Botswana is committed to the protection of all its natural and cultural heritage, regardless of whether it is a World Heritage site or not. We therefore assure the committee that we will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, most importantly the communities living in and around the Okavango Delta, and the riparian States of Angola and Namibia to maintain the integrity of the Okavango Delta.
We are very honored to have the Okavango Delta as one of the World Heritage sites after Tsodilo Hills which was inscribed in 2001. The success of this nomination is attributed to the support of the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), the World Heritage Centre, IUCN, ICOMOS, through the Nomination Training Programme for Africa dedicated to the training of heritage professionals in Africa in the development of nomination dossiers with the aim of increasing the number of World Heritage Sites in Africa in the World Heritage List.