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Friday, 12 April 2019 15:03

KAZA/TFCA Position on Elephant Population Management

KAZA/TFCA Position on Elephant Population Management and Status in the Republic of Botswana

Victoria Falls - We, the Ministers responsible for environment, wildlife, tourism and natural resources of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, met in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on the 11th April 2019 to review progress on the establishment and development of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).

We note with concern the debate and criticism on elephant population management, status, new policies and programmes for the Republic of Botswana. We confirm that the Republic of Angola, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of Zambia and the Republic of Zimbabwe as partner countries of the KAZA TFCA along with the Republic of Botswana support the new policies and programmes on elephant population management and sustainable use for the Republic of Botswana.

The KAZA TFCA is a conservation and development partnership of the Governments of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A key objective of the KAZA TFCA is to join fragmented wildlife habitats into an interconnected mosaic of protected areas and with ecologically functional transboundary wildlife movement corridors as well as dispersal areas, which facilitate and enhance the free movement of wildlife across international boundaries, and opening up of larger landscapes and habitats for wildlife. We reconfirm that the biological resources of the KAZA TFCA incorporate the largest contiguous elephant population on the African continent, of which much of the population is in the KAZA TFCA component of the Republic of Botswana. In this regard, we approved the KAZA TFCA Elephant Planning Framework as a strategy for harmonising the management of KAZA TFCA elephants as a contiguous population.

We recognize that the areas of the KAZA TFCA are inhabited by human populations. The livelihoods of the rural communities revolve around pastoralism, hunting, fishing, harvesting of reeds and sedges, growing of crops and employment as skilled labour, notably in different sectors of a vibrant tourism industry. It is imperative that any programme to promote the conservation of biodiversity must on the other hand sustain and have a positive impact on the standard of living of these rural communities, and elephant management and sustainable use thereof is no exception.

We therefore call upon critics on elephant population management and status to stop and allow the Republic of Botswana, and KAZA TFCA in general, to implement policies and programmes on elephant management and sustainable use thereof, for improved economic growth, species management and community livelihoods. We further call upon them to provide support to sound elephant management practices, in particular, to programmes such as human wildlife conflict management; community based natural resource management; strengthening law enforcement and combating cross-border wildlife crime; among other priorities for the KAZA TFCA`s heterogeneous landscape.