Mathathane — Construction of the Terra Conservancy-financed electrified Tuli backline fence is a direct response to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism national elephant management plan, says Minister Philda Kereng.
The fence bars wild animals from encroaching into human spaces while simultaneously prohibiting livestock from crossing into privately owned land and also helps curb poaching.
Speaking at a ground breaking ceremony for the 30km-fence near Mathathane Saturday, Ms Kereng said its construction was the first phase of a long-term plan to curb human-elephant conflict.
The second phase, she said, would entail systematic and regular maintenance of the fence to ensure it continued to provide the intended purpose for the next 20 years.
Terra Conservancy provided P3 million for direct costs of construction and an estimated P1.2 million for monitoring and fence maintenance for the next three years, Minister Kereng revealed.
The minister hailed Terra Conservancy for “clearly living to expectation of what a good neighbour should be doing to help minismise the negative impacts that elephants are otherwise having on crops in the Mathathane and Tsetsebye lands.’
Saying the fence would save government money, she demonstrated that between 2016 and 2019 a total of P1.8 million was paid as compensation for damage to crops and property caused by wildlife.
The minister said the Department of Wildlife and National Parks would use aircraft to chase elephants out of communal lands into animal protected areas.
About the plan, which was being finalised, she said it had among its strategic objectives human-elephant conflict management and mitigation.
“Priority actions under this strategic objective include supporting communities by demonstrating or implementing prevention and mitigating factors,” said Minister Kereng.
Speaking at the event, Terra Conservancy representative, Mr Jurgen Elbertse echoed the minister’s words that the fence would resolve the human-wildlife conflict.
He explained that Koro River Camp in central Tuli was the source of funding for the project.
Mr Elbertse revealed that a four-kilometre portion of the fence had already been erected.
That, he said, was necessitated by an urgent need to assist farmers who hitherto had given up on ploughing owing to continued destruction of crops by elephants.
Mr Elbertse said the construction of the backline fence had energized not only farmers to plough for a good harvest but also private land owners who felt duty bound to assist in erecting a fence that would curb human-wildlife conflict in the area and foster healthy neighborhoods.
“They say that good fences make good neighbours,” said Mr Elbertse.
For his part, Kgosi Olgas Serumola of Mathathane said he expected the fence to have the intended benefits to both farmers and private land owners while also stopping poachers.
Calling for a maintenance plan, Kgosi Serumola said his community had committed to caring for and guarding against destruction of the fence.
“With the previous fence it could take up to five months to attend to a fallen pole,” said Kgosi Serumola in appreciation of the new technology fence that would promptly report any tempering with at the office in Mathathane.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>