Botswana — Veld fires in Chobe might alter the ecosystem of the area, a wildlife and environment conservation specialist, Mr Mushanana Nchunga has said.
Officiating at this year’s World Wetlands Day commemoration in Kavimba on Tuesday February 2, Mr Nchunga said excessive use and destruction of natural resources continued to be a challenge.
Mr Nchunga, who is also former director of Department of Wildlife and National Parks, called upon Chobe residents to ensure that they helped in protecting forests by preventing fire outbreaks.
“We can do this by refraining from starting veld fires and by actively taking part in putting out veld fires when called upon to do so,” he added.
Mr Nchunga noted that the day marked signing of the convention on wetlands on February 2, 1971 known as the Ramsar Convention.
“The treaty provides the framework for national and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources,” he said.
Locally, he explained, a management plan had been developed in order to protect and promote the wise use of resources from the Okavango Delta, which was designated as a Ramsar site.
Chobe River and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans were also classified as wetlands and commemorated under the theme: Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods.
Mr Nchunga said this called upon the nation to look at the relationship between wetlands and human wellbeing as wetlands played an important role in the development and sustenance of people who lived around them.
He noted that this commemoration came at a time when the Chobe River was drying up, which would negatively affect the ability of the people in these areas to sustain their livelihoods from the drying wetland.
The vice chairperson of Chobe Enclave Community Trust (CECT), Mr Robertson Mabuta highlighted some of the benefits of living along wetland areas such as practicing molapo farming, which uses floodplains for ploughing along the riverbanks as well as reeds harvesting, fishing and watering for livestock.
He added that as a result of proximity to wetlands and the aesthetic nature of the Chobe River, CECT owns two lodges and has managed to engage in a joint venture at Linyanti to zone camps used by fisherman within the concession.