May 24, 2013
The government of Botswana will next week evict hundreds of Bushmen from their land to make way for a wildlife park, indigenous rights group Survival International claimed Friday.
The group said the indigenous community based in the south of the country, will be removed Monday and their homes will be destroyed.
“The Bushman community at Ranyane has allegedly been told by the local government that trucks will arrive on Monday to remove them from the land they have inhabited for generations,” said a statement.
Botswana government spokesman Jeff Ramsay said he was not aware of the alleged eviction and called it a smear campaign.
The site for the proposed wildlife park lies between the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the country’s premier safari reserves.
Survival International says that Botswana’s nature-loving President Ian Khama sits in the board of the proposed wildlife corridor, run by an America organisation.
“Destroying tribal peoples and calling it conservation is an echo of colonialism,” said Stephen Corry, Survival’s director.
“It should not be allowed in the 21st century, and all true conservationists should be up in arms.”
In the past years, Botswana has forcefully driven off the Bushmen from their lands to make way for conservation parks, sparking international outrage.
Those who returned were denied access to water and threatened with prosecution.
The Bushmen are the indigenous people of southern Africa, they live off the land, hunting and gathering, grow their own food, and have limited access to health care.
Their population, said to be around 100,000, has been decimated by disease and hunger.