Agricultural Development and Food Security Minister Patrick Ralotsia says the government cannot cull elephants that destroy arable produce as Botswana is bound not to do so by international treaties.
Ralotsia who was at the Adansonia Hotel, Francistown to consult with farmers on the future of the Botswana Meat Commission and beef industry was responding to a query by farmer B T Gwamulumba of the Kgomokhumo Famers’ Association.
Gwamulumba had complained that the farmers were losing farm produce to elephants every ploughing season and felt that the elephant population should be curled to reduce the farmers’ losses.
“I am aware that elephants and other wild animals damage ploughing fields but we are part of the world community and what happens somewhere also happens here. If there is a world body that we subscribe to we have to what they do.
We cannot kill elephants because we are party to the international community’s agreement that elephants should not be killed as they are an endangered species,” Ralotsia said.
Botswana is a signatory of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES) an international agreement between governments aimed at ensuring that trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
CITES lists elephants as endangered and have banned ivory trade.
“Some say we should be free to kill them because they belong to us. However we must be aware that if we kill them contrary to the international agreements we have entered into this will harm other sectors of our economy.
The international community can say “Ok kill your elephants but whilst we do that we will stop buying your diamonds.
They may also stop visiting and this will hurt our tourism which is the biggest earner after minerals. This will not be good for our economy”, minister Ralotsia said.
He went on to say the government is aware of the trouble caused to farmers by the elephants whose population is estimated to be about 600 000.
Ralotsia assured his audience that government will do its best to help mitigate farmers against the damage done to their produce by them and other wild animals.