Cattle ranchers have no ownership of wild animals

BOTSWANA - Cattle ranchers have no automatic access, rights and ownership of wild animals found in their farms. Assistant director (Management and Utilisation) in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Moemi Batshabang said cattle ranchers only enjoy the landholder privilege while the animals remain the property of the government.
calendar icon 23 October 2006
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This means that they have to secure these animals and if they want to kill some of them, they have to follow the right channels and contact the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

The interview followed word that some farmers claim to have full ownership rights of animals found in their farms and that they can kill them at will.

Mr Batshabang said the law requires cattle ranchers to register with the wildlife department to enjoy any such privileges in line with regulation 13 of the Wildlife Conservation (Hunting and Licensing) Regulations, 2001.

He said the way cattle ranches are run is different from game ranching whereby the owner of a game ranch enjoys the right of ownership over every animal that is in the farm.

However, Mr Batshabang, said they have not received reports of farmers violating the Wildlife Act.Our cattle ranchers are aware of the Act, he added.

But on the other hand, Brendan Moapare, a cattle rancher at Hukuntsi, interprets the Wildlife Act differently because the decision rests with us as cattle ranchers.He said the Wildlife Act empowers them to kill animals in their farms without permission from the wildlife department.

Mr Moapare said because of the landlord privileges embodied in the Act, the law automatically empowers us as cattle ranchers to kill a certain number of animals in our farms without any permission from the wildlife authorities.

Section 20 (Landholders privileges) of the 1992 Wildlife Act states that a person is entitled to landholders privileges if he is owner of private land in Botswana, or he is the occupier of land granted to them by the State or a Land Board other than for the purpose of hunting.

The entitlement can be extended to bona fide employees and dependants through written permission. Mr Moapare said wildlife officials count wild animals in their farms annually and thereafter they can kill whatever species is in abundance.

Cattle ranchers are only required by the Act to make an application when there is a request from residents. He said if there is no such request to the wildlife department, it is regarded as poaching and the law takes its course.

Mr Moapare, who has different species in his farm, said the only problem they have with the Wildlife Act is when animals in the farms have escaped the fence.

He said in such a situation, cattle ranchers are not allowed to take them back into the ranches because it is regarded by law as illegal capturing. BOPA News Desk

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