By Omphile Ntakhwana
Gaborone — China has donated P17 million worth of equipment to Botswana. Speaking at a recent press briefing, Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Mr Tshekedi Khama, said the gesture followed P200 000 that China donated in June this year.
The money helped the country to relocate 500 wild animals into protected areas. "We relocated 400 wildebeests and 100 elands into protected areas," he said, adding that his ministry was grateful for the relationship it had with the Chinese embassy.
Minister Khama said the country also faced financial challenges in other areas, noting that traditional partners had not been donating towards the country's efforts regarding anti-poaching and animal conservation.
"Another recent donation we received was from the Dutch government, and it was to the tune of 800 000 euros which is over P8 million," he said, indicating that the money was for forensics.
Botswana, he said, appreciated the assistance from the Chinese government and it could not have come at a better time.
"We have been listed as a middle income economy hence our traditional donors are not donating anymore, but yet we see other neighbouring countries getting such donations," said Minister Khama.
He stated that if Botswana had funds, it could have purchased the equipment it needed, adding that "fortunately the Chinese government has stepped in to assist Botswana in its moment of need."
The Chinese Ambassador, Mr Zheng Zhuqiang, said wildlife occupied an integral place in the ecosystem and also played an irreplaceable role in maintaining sustainable development of the world.
"In recentyears, tireless efforts have been made by the international community of the field of wildlife protection," he said.
Ambassador Zheng stated that "Botswana is blessed with abundant wildlife resources and the country has always been an excellent example of wildlife protection and enjoys high reputation in the world.
"Botswana not only has the highest conservation land ratios and the most stringent enforcement of relevant laws in Africa, but also fully dedicates itself to collaborate with other countries to protect wildlife resources," he said.
Furthermore, Ambassador Zheng said, China had decided to help protect wildlife.
"All the necessary measures have been taken by the Chinese government to conserve wildlife resources and combat illegal wildlife poaching and trading, including improving the legal framework of wildlife protection, strengthening management system of wildlife protection and its law enforcement, marking out nature reserves, enhancing international exchanges and cooperation," he said.
In recent years, he noted, China had been actively participating in international collaborations on stamping out illegal wildlife trading and international conferences on wildlife conservation.
"China pledges to enhance international collaboration and exchange in wildlife protection on the basis of mutual respect, mutual benefit and joint protection," he said.
Ambassador Zheng said, "China highly appreciates Botswana's long term efforts in protecting wildlife and I sincerely hope that with our joint efforts, we shall carry out wildlife protection campaign and curb illegal wildlife trading more efficiently."