Khumaga — Botswana is adorned with untapped beautiful sites that can be developed to promote local tourism.
Addressing a village leadership meeting in Khumaga recently, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane urged Batswana to make use of such sites in their peripheries.
Trusts could utilise such sites to promote local tourism and establish cultural villages for the same purpose, he said.
Mr Tsogwane said although COVID-19 came with negative effects, it had sparked interest among Batswana for visiting local places of interest which he said was critical in growing the economy.
He implored Batswana to support local tourism sites.
For her part, Minister of Wildlife, Tourism and Natural Resources, Ms Philda Kereng urged Batswana to embark on nature reserve and ecotourism projects as a way of promoting local tourism.
She said government planned to promote the active participation of locals in tourism such as travel and photographic tourism.
Minister Kereng disclosed that Boteti had been identified as a centre of excellence for Community Based Natural Resource Management programmes.
The aim, she explained, was to strengthen trusts through skills empowerment and provision of financial support.
Minister Kereng further stated that the ministry was working on guidelines for regulating the use of natural resources such as wild fruits for food production or skincare products.
On compensation rates for damage caused by wildlife, she said were being reviewed as they were too low and to include other animals previously not considered dangerous.
The minister said in a move to enhance service delivery, private vehicles would be engaged to transport wildlife officers to assess damage caused by animals.
Currently, assessment was conducted late and exhibits got destroyed in the process due to lack of transport, she said.
Ms Kereng said the ministry was also working on an elephant management plan to control movement and ensure sustainable management of wild animals and natural resources.
She said the ministry was advocating for co-existence with wildlife in a manner that could enable communities to generate profit, promote integrated farming and create job opportunities.
Another speaker, Department of Wildlife and National Parks director, Dr Kabelo Senyatso, informed the gathering that installation of the 120 kilometer Makgadikgadi game proof fence was underway.
Some 60 kilometers had already been covered while the remainder, alongside Khumaga, was delayed by legal issues, he said.
Dr Senyatso reiterated that assessment of damage caused by wild animals would be fast-tracked adding that more officers would be deployed to the area to address compensation backlog.
He urged trusts to approach the Conservation Trust Fund for financial support.
Source : BOPA