Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Botswana: Lions being smuggled; wildlife declines by a staggering 90 percent - Report

Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe
5 October 2009

Botswana may be famous world wide as a big game country, with the highest number of elephants in Africa, but a report produced by Botswana's National Vision 2016 Council has revealed the population of over 11 wildlife species has been dwindling by as much as 90 percent in a 10 year period between 1994 and 2004.

The inaugural report by Vision 2016 Council has been produced to update the nation how far it has gone in realising the goals of the national vision.

Although the elephant population doubled between 1994 and 2006, making Botswana's jumbo population the largest in Africa, the Vision 2016 report has warned such an alarming increase has naturally increased the potential for human-elephants conflict.

The report further says that for other wildlife species however the number presents a different and in some cases, alarming trend as population of certain species has declined by up to 90 per cent and more. The report advises that on going monitoring of population trends will be critical as part of Botswana wildlife management strategy.

It says although elephants population grows by 5 percent a year, many other species are not increasing, having maintained their numbers, while the population of 11 wildlife species have declined by 50 percent or more between 1994 and 2004. The report says five of them; duiker, reedbuck, sitatunga, tshesebe, warthog, the downward trend is alarming, with the population of each having dropped by more than three quarters over the 10 year period.

The report does not mention how far the population of lions in the country has been affected however. It has been more than three years since the Department of Wildlife banned the hunting of lions in Botswana in a bid to allow their population to improve.

However reports about smuggling of cubs, baby lions into south Africa has been rampant in recent years. At the time of going to press the department was still compiling for the Monitor statistics showing how the various wildlife species' population has been dwindling.

The Vision 2016 report states that wildlife population trends vary quite dramatically across the different species, even though the overall wildlife biomass has increased substantially over the past decade. It says the bulk of these changes though is due to the significant increase in the elephant population.

The report also decries that land use and the potential for land use conflicts is an issue in Botswana because such a small proportion of Botswana's land use area (5 percent) is cultivable. "
The potential conflict arises between human beings, livestock and wildlife and are centered around the various interests of large scale farming, small-scale subsistence and traditional farming and hunting, mining, tourism, wildlife management, population growth and urbanisation.



Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

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