Residents of Mathangwane and surrounding villages in the North East, just a short distance from the city of Francistown, live in fear of being trampled on by marouding elephants after about 12 of the gigantic animals were recently spotted in the vicinity.
IN an interview with The Patriot on Sunday, Kgosi Itekeng Mathangwane said about 10 elephants were seen at the neighbouring Hubona village by residents who quickly alerted Department of Wildlife Game warders. “Fortunately the problem animals did not attack anyone. We now live in fear because of the elephants because we know that they are capable of killing innocent people. I support government’s decision of lifting the hunting ban of elephants because such an initiative will reduce their numbers,” Mathangwane stated in an interview.
The tribal leader further noted that two other elephants were spotted at Mathangwane lands recently by herd boys adding that he had instructed them to shoot and kill the problem animals before they could cause havoc. The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism issued a statement warning members of the public about the roaming elephants. “The elephants were discovered roaming at night recently in Mathangwane and surrounding. We advise members of the public to report to the nearest police station or wildlife officers once they see the animals,” the statement read.
The elephant population has increased drastically after former president Ian Khama imposed a hunting ban in 2014. His successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi then appointed a cabinet task force to consult Batswana on how to address the human-wildlife conflict. Masisi admitted at a BDP gathering in Sebina over the weekend that had his government not taken the decision to the lift the hunting ban, Batswana were going to remove his ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) from power at the upcoming general elections in October. The President observed that most of Batswana were fed up as they were being terrorized by the animals. The task team then informed the head of state that Batswana wanted the hunting ban on elephants lifted as the problem animals were causing havoc especially in the North West District. President Mokgweetsi Masisi then resolved to lift the hunting ban on elephants as a way of reducing their ever rising population.
Though Masisi’s decision was applauded by Batswana, especially those who were greatly affected by the animals, it attracted a backlash from the western countries who strongly belief that culling elephants is cruelty to animals. Masisi’s bone of contention is that elephants continue to claim lives of innocent citizens and even destroy farmers’ crops hence leaving them in abject poverty. Since the beginning of this year three people were reported to have been killed by elephants in different parts of the country.