South African news broadcaster eNCA’s Gerhard Pretorius recently travelled across Botswana to file this story. The Human-Wildlife Conflict in Botswana is reaching crisis mode. Some communities in the country are living in fear of elephant attacks. The Department of Wildlife and National Parks says the elephant population has ballooned nearly three times and now the animals are seeking food and water in villages and towns.
According to the Botswana government, some 45 people have been killed by elephants in recent years and there have been more than 8,000 incidents of Human-Wildlife Conflict. In April, a man was trampled to death by an elephant in Kasane in the northeastern corner of Botswana. Dorcus Shamukuni’s family is still grieving.
“He had four children. Two girls and two boys and the parents and us as the family and now he’s gone. All the things he used to do are gone with him,” said Shamukuni’s sister, Dorcus Shamukuni.
While Buti Sebudubudu’s two brothers were killed in similar attacks.
“They are killing us. We can’t even plough. The elephants destroy everything. They come into the village and we are not safe anymore,” said Buti.
10-year-old Ontebaganye Ngoma and his grandmother say they narrowly escaped death.
“The elephant came and grabbed my leg. My grandmother was holding onto my hand. It tried to pull me then I lifted up my leg and it broke my leg,”, said Ontebaganye.
The Botswana government compensates the families of those killed by animals and for damage to property.
“Our compensation bill has escalated from around 4-5 million pula 4 years ago to around 24-million pula as of the end of this last financial year,” said Cyril Taolu, from Botswana Wildlife and National Parks.
The government is working on finding a solution to the Human-Wildlife Conflict crisis while communities are calling for some of the elephants to be culled.