NEWS 2005


Govt Fears in Post CKGR Relocation Period

Thato Chwaane

Former director of Wildlife and National Parks, Joseph Matlhare has described the aftermath of relocation from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) as 'sensitive times'. He told the High Court in Lobatse that people had just moved out of the CKGR and there was a fear that they would undermine government's relocation efforts. Hence, he sought the input of his Permanent Secretary (PS). He said the response of the PS tallied with his views.

He added that in the aftermath of the relocation, there were people bent on trying to get others back into the reserve.

He said a letter from a certain Amogelang Segootsane requesting for permission to transport large amounts of water into CKGR raised concern in his department because of the manner in which it was written. The letter had sought for permission for 'us' to use different vehicles for bringing water into the reserve. He said at the time, he knew there were organisations campaigning against relocation from British NGO Survival International and Ditshwanelo of Botswana.

He gave permission to his deputy Jan Broekhuis to reply the letter and grant permission to Segootsane.

He said that it was not a normal activity to have water in large quantities moved into the reserve on a daily basis unless there was a construction project and there was no water on site.

He said that his department was not responsible for relocating people from the CKGR as this was under the Ministry of Local Government. He said their role was to escort those relocating as some were scared of wild animals.

He said special game licences were given to those outside the reserve. But since the government had taken a position not to provide the remaining people in the reserve with services, they were not given the special game licences.

He made distinctions between wildlife management areas, controlled hunting areas and protected areas. He explained that the whole country is a controlled hunting area where one is required to have a permit to hunt.

The hunting permits are seasonal. He said the wildlife management areas calls for sustainable utilisation of wildlife.

The protected areas such as game reserves and national parks require total preservations of wildlife and does not permit consumption or utilisation of resources.

He said that people live in controlled hunting areas and wildlife management areas but not in protected areas - game reserve and national parks - unless they have a permit.

Matlhare said 17 percent of Botswana is protected land. He said the percentage is high in Botswana for better protection of wildlife.