Botswana government to review compensation scheme for wildlife attack victims




By Keletso Thobega for Botswana Guardian

The Botswana government is undertaking a review of the amount of compensation paid to victims of human-wildlife conflict after repeated complaints that the amounts are too low.

The government does not provide monetary compensation for animal attacks or injuries.

It covers transport costs to the clinic and medical assistance. In the event of death, the family of the deceased receives 70,000 pesos (£4,600) to cover funeral expenses and loss of earnings of the deceased.

The government pays compensation only in the event of the slaughter of livestock by predatory animals; i.e. 35% of the value of the cattle slaughtered. Where wildlife destroys farmers’ crops,

The government pays the costs incurred for the destruction, for example the cost of an estimate for broken fences or seeds for the said destroyed crops.

The total compensation costs incurred by the government over the last ten years amount to more than 6 million Pula (£391,000) according to the Department of Wildlife Management and National Parks.

This ongoing review will pave the way for amendments to the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1992, in particular section 87 which outlines the government’s obligations in terms of injury and loss of life caused by wildlife.

The government is currently working with various stakeholders to review and implement recommendations which include the provision of comprehensive therapeutic rehabilitation, reconstructive surgery and compensation commensurate with the severity of injuries sustained.

Wildlife and National Parks Director Kabelo Senyatso confirmed changes are imminent, adding that they have been working with multiple stakeholders on the processes.

“It’s something we’re definitely looking at. It’s been on the table for a while. We’re working with different stakeholders so we can design a more efficient system,” he said.

Senyatso said the human-wildlife conflict situation had improved when the hunting ban was lifted, but the challenge now is the impacts of climate change affecting the movement of animals, which poses a higher risk of animal-human contact.

“Due to temperature changes and less water and food sources, we are seeing animals moving around a little more than usual and they sometimes end up in colonies encroaching on communal lands and agricultural areas. looking for food and water,” he said.

Senyatso noted that there is a growing list of claims from farmers whose fields and crops are being destroyed by wild animals.

He said there are also claims for livestock being eaten by wild animals.

A 2021 report by the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) indicates that human-wildlife conflict is deepening poverty and increasingly transforming rural livelihoods from dependence to production. agriculture and livestock to dependence on government-assisted impoverished programs and other unstable sources of livelihood.

The results also indicate that many people living in wildlife areas said accessing social security and compensation services is a cumbersome process.

The report says 35% of animal attacks are from leopards and 26% from elephants, with an average of 65% of human deaths from animal attacks caused by elephants.

A recent incident that has raised concerns about the growing threat of animal attacks and the lack of adequate compensation concerns farmer Bashi Kabo from Matopi in the northeast of the country, who was attacked by a leopard in his closed.

Kabo was grazing cattle when a leopard emerged from a nearby bush thicket and pounced on him. He was unarmed and unprepared.

The leopard overpowered him and fought him off and only left him after he helplessly curled into a ball.

Kabo suffered severe psychological trauma and suffered injuries including a blow to the skull and deep scratches to his head and neck, as well as internal bleeding.

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks has advised that it can only offer animal attack victims transportation for clinic visits, as there is no stipulation to offer financial assistance or support. compensation to those attacked by wild animals, except for compensation of P70,000 (£4,650). to a family in case the victim dies from his injuries.

This article is reproduced here as part of the African Conservation Journalism Program, funded in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe by USAID’s VukaNow: Activity. Implemented by the international conservation organization Space for Giants, it aims to expand the reach of conservation and environmental journalism in Africa and bring more African voices into the international conservation debate.

Read the original story here.

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