Botswana rolls back fences for wildlife
[Reprinted from the Environmental News Network, Thursday, May 28, 1998]
Botswana confirmed this week that it will begin a major rollback and realignment of cattle fences that will allow Africa's last free-ranging wildlife herds to regain access to seasonal feeding grounds and water holes, according to Conservation International. The fences caused a major disruption in the migration patterns of wildlife.
The move affects more than 62 miles of fence in northern Botswana between the Okavango Delta and the Caprivi strip in Namibia. More than 18 miles of fence along the Caprivi border will be removed outright, allowing wildlife greater access to the Kwando River. Other fence realignments are under consideration pending environmental impact studies and community planning.
Conservation International and other organizations led a lobbying effort to bring the government's attention to rapid declines in wildlife populations caused by the cattle fences. The government erected the fences in 1995 in an attempt to contain an outbreak of cattle lung disease. Herds of antelope, zebra, and other mammals were seen struggling as they tried to reach seasonal food and water blocked by the fences. Hundreds of animals starved.
"This move marks the first time that the government of Botswana has committed to large-scale fence removal and realignment based solely on wildlife and community considerations," said Dr. Karen Ross, director of CI's Okavango Delta Program.
The world's largest inland delta, the Okavango region of Botswana contains one of the richest arrays of animal and plant life in Africa, provides critical habitat and food resources for wildlife and is home to several communities.
For more information, contact Lani Asato, Conservation International. (202)973-2250. Copyright 1998, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved
See also www.conservation.org