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Monday 16 December 2019

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Elephants prepare to cross a road as cars drive by in Kasane, in the Chobe district, Northern Botswana, on May 28, 2019.

A hunter has gunned down a collared elephant in Botswana, the first illegal killing since the country lifted a five-year ban on hunting the animals.

The killing has conservationists concerned but not opposed to elephant hunting, as Botswana has a growing elephant population that sometimes comes into conflict with humans.

Botswana's government said the elephant was shot in the tourism resort of Ngamiland by a licensed citizen in the company of a professional hunter and wildlife officers.

The elephant was wearing a collar put on for research purposes.

Action will be taken against the perpetrators, including revoking their licenses, the government said.

The hunters said the elephant herd charged, which resulted in the shooting of the collared bull.

Neil Fitt of the Kalahari Conservation Society said it was odd for a collared animal to be shot.

"It should in reality never happen,” Fitt said. “If a professional hunter is doing his job properly, he should not get himself or his clients in a position that they have to do proactive work. It is unacceptable for elephants or any other animal to be shot using professional hunters in that aspect."

A local professional hunter, Randy Motsumi, said at times it is difficult for hunters to spot the collar, which is usually brown or black.

"An elephant has big ears which can hinder your sight to look at the collar on the neck,” Motsumi said. “If it is facing you, it is very difficult to see its neck, unless if you take time to look at the animal."

Botswana is issuing 272 hunting licenses for the 2020 hunting season. Foreign hunters will be allocated 200 licenses and allowed to export the trophy. The remainder of the licenses are reserved for locals.

Fitt has no objection to the licenses.

"The number issue is actually fine,” Fitt said. “It's how and where those numbers will actually be allocated and if the communities in those areas will be properly consulted and allow their voices to be heard regarding the numbers."

Most African countries have banned or limited hunting to protect declining elephant populations from poachers. But Botswana has the highest number of elephants in the world, at an estimated 130,000, more than double the official capacity.

Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni

The government has removed Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni from the office.

According to a letter signed by a person identified only as Z.R. Churu, secretary for Local Government and Public Works, addressed to the chairperson of the Matabeleland North Provincial Chiefs’ Council, the president removed Chief Ndiweni with effect from November 30, 2019.

The letter read in part, “… Now therefore you are directed to proceed to officially advise the former chief as well as cease the payment of his allowances, cause the DDC (District Development Committee) to recover the government allocated vehicle, all chief’s regalia and any other state assets in his custody, with the assistance of the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) if need be.”

Churu asked the council chairperson to “liaise with the Ndiweni clan to select a candidate for appointment as substantive Chief Ndiweni in terms of Section 283(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and Section 3(2)(1) of the Traditional Leaders Act, chapter 29:17.”

Chapter 283 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that the appointment, removal and suspension of chiefs must be done by the president on the recommendation of the provincial assembly of chiefs through the National Council of Chiefs and the minister responsible for traditional leaders and in accordance with the traditional practices and traditions of the communities concerned.

The Ndiweni family is fuming over the removal of Chief Ndiweni saying the government is interfering in the running of their household.

A family spokesperson Wilson Bancinyane Ndiweni said, “These people don’t know what they are doing. Nhlanhlayamangwe was carefully selected by his late father Khayisa Ndiweni who asked the family to make sure that he is our next chief and we did exactly that. What they are doing is disgraceful. We will re-appoint him if they want us to look for another chief.

“The truth is that we are the Ndiweni clan and nobody should tell us what to do. These people don’t know our history and the way we do things and to make matters worse, they want one of the sons to be the chief claiming that he is the first born child. That’s not true.”

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