Botswana strives to remain leader in natural resources conservation: minister

Elephants drink water in one of the dry channel of the wildlife reach Okavango Delta near the Nxaraga village in the outskirt of Maun, on 28 September 2019. - The Okavango Delta is one of Africa's last remaining great wildlife habitat and provides refuge to huge concentrations of game. Botswana government declared this year as a drought year due to no rain fall through out the country. (Photo by MONIRUL BHUIYAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MONIRUL BHUIYAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Elephants drink water in one of the dry channel of the wildlife reach Okavango Delta near the Nxaraga village in the outskirt of Maun, on 28 September 2019. – The Okavango Delta is one of Africa’s last remaining great wildlife habitat and provides refuge to huge concentrations of game. Botswana government declared this year as a drought year due to no rain fall through out the country. (Photo credit MONIRUL BHUIYAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Botswana’s government will strive to stay a leader in natural resources conservation, the country’s tourism minister said on Saturday.

Philda Kereng, Botswana’s minister of environment, natural resources conservation and tourism, made the commitment in her speech at the annual Botswana Travel and Tourism Expo in Kasane, some 1,100 km northwest of the capital city, Gaborone.

Botswana has experienced a number of challenges this year with some Western media and independent lobby groups challenging the country’s conservation agenda and commitment to protecting elephants, she said.

“The government would strive to keep Botswana as a leader in conservation,” Kereng told a gathering that included journalists and tourism industry players from across the globe.

She added that Botswana will always be “scientifically informed to ensure the protection and conservation of our natural resources.”

Kereng said wildlife conservation remains a huge contributor to Botswana’s tourism sector and the engine of its future growth.

“It would be naive to think we could neglect its (wildlife) protection,” said Kereng.

Botswana is estimated to be home to some 130,000 elephants, according to the aerial surveys conducted in 2010 and 2014 by the Department of Wildlife and charitable organization National Parks and Elephants Without Borders.

The government lifted its ban on elephant hunting in May after a five-year suspension, citing growing conflicts between humans and elephants.