By Mooketsi Modise
Letlhakeng — A senior wildlife warden has decried the human-wildlife conflict in his area of jurisdiction. Speaking in an interview recently, Letlhakeng-based, Mr Mojalemotho Keakile, said as of the beginning of this year, his office had received 41 problem animal reports which varied from lions, wild dogs, leopards and more recently elephants.
He said predatory animals such as lions and wild dogs attacked livestock at cattle posts while elephants destroyed fields, threatening the very livelihoods of many Batswana. He said wild dogs accounted for most of the reports received by his office, citing a recent report in which they decimated one farmer's 18 heads of cattle.
Mr Keakile noted that his office was battling to contain this conflict and that their efforts were being heavily undermined by shortage of wildlife officers.
He pointed out that there were two officers in the Letlhakeng wildlife office.
The Department of Wildlife and National Parks recently contracted two special wildlife scouts to try and augment this shortage of manpower. Furthermore, he noted that shortage of resources such as vehicles and camping equipment proves to be a challenge in their quest to harmonize the relationship between the country's wildlife and communities.
He said because of these challenges, it takes time for his office to attend problem animal reports resulting in farmers waiting for a long time to be compensated for damages.
Some of these animals, he said, were listed as dangerous animals under the ninth schedule of the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act of 1992 as such he cautioned farmers to desist from trying to take matters into their own hands as they could put not only their lives in danger but also the lives of all those living surrounding with these animals.
This was so because farmers in most cases used unsanctioned methods of killing these animals like setting up traps. This he says is very dangerous because the traps sometimes serve only to injure these animals making them very unpredictable and violent to anyone they might cross paths with.
He advised farmers to ensure their livestock was well protected from animal attacks through effective and efficient herding and that they must build strong kraals to keep out predators at night and also use chilli pepper to keep the elephants away from their fields.
Lastly he pleaded with the public to be patient with his office as it is relatively new, having only opened its doors in 2010 and is still being resourced to achieve its full mandate.