Botswana’s Prosperity Relies On Wildlife

| May 18, 2015

Botswana’s future economic prosperity lies in the sustainable use of its wildlife, says the Ambassador of the United States of America to Botswana, Mr Earl Miller.

Ambassador Miller said this on Saturday (May 16) in Letlhakane during the World Migratory Bird day commemorations. He stated that just as diamonds helped build Botswana of today, sustainable use of wildlife could build Botswana of tomorrow.

The global bird watching industry was worth 800 billion pula annually and “People around the world admire birds so much that watching them is big business,” he said. He commended Birdlife Botswana for working with local communities to bring some of the money to Botswana by developing bird watching tourism.

Mr Miller said birds were being admired for their beauty, their song and because they symbolized independence. He noted that eco-tourism generated eight billion pula per year and employed almost 50 000 Batswana. The Ambassador highlighted that the value of Botswana’s wildlife and its importance to the average Motswana would continue to grow.

Furthermore, he stated that by 2022, tourism related activities were projected to almost double to bring in over 15 billion pula. He said that could only be realised if people could work together to preserve Botswana’s environmental wealth.

That, he said was vital because it would determine the success of Botswana’s efforts to develop the economy in sectors outside of diamond mining and address unemployment.

He stressed that for Botswana to prosper sustainably, the country’s environmental wealth must not only be preserved, and it must also be well distributed.

Preserving Botswana’s better known eco-tourism sites, such as Okavango Delta, which boasts a wealth of bird and animal life was critical, he added.

Studies, he said, have shown that unless protections could be put in place, the Delta would cease to exist. Mr Miller said their hope was to partner with the Okavango Delta and a similar wetland in America called Everglades National Park.

For his part, Birdlife Botswana director, Mr Kabelo Senyatso said atleast 15 million pula would be invested in supporting communities in Makgadikgadi. Mr Senyatso stated that birds disappear and as Birdlife Botswana they established reasons behind migration of birds.

He noted that a lot of birds disappear, adding that 900 000 birds were shot in Cyprus during migration between Europe and Africa in 2014. He stated that a key threat to migrating birds was power lines, adding that a lot of them collide with power lines as they migrate.

Orapa Letlhakane and Damtshaa Mines Senior Safety and Sustainable Development manager, Mr George Sehunelo, noted that energy could not be truly sustainable and environment friendly unless it could take biodiversity and migratory birds in to consideration.

Meanwhile, the school head of Letlhakane Senior Secondary School, Mr Mathews Rakhudu said the days’ activities incorporated the key environmental issues which added value to the teaching-learning process to a more encompassing approach to children.

The event, he said, would enable learners to be able to relate what they have learnt to real life situations and be in a position to take lead in changing behavior and sustainable lifestyles.

Birds, he said, were vital in cleansing the environment and providing sounds which were soothing to a stressful person. The day’s theme was,” Energy, make it bird friendly.”

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: General

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