Survival International, a human rights advocacy group, has expressed concern over reports about the imminent eviction of several hundred traditional Bushmen in southern Botswana to pave way for a ‘wildlife corridor’. Local government officials in the landlocked country in southern Africa informed the Bushmen of Ranyane that trucks will arrive on May 27 to forcibly remove them from lands they have occupied for millennia.
Botswana: Bushmen forcibily removed from their land
According to Survival International, the land where the Bushmen engaged in traditional hunting and gathering is in a proposed wildlife corridor which the US-based group, Conservation International, on whose board sits Seretse Khama, the president of Botswana. Khama has pushed for the designation of the area as a wildlife corridor for many years.
The land lies between the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and is also occupied by some settlers and farms.
According to Survival International, a Bushman spokesman said, “We appeal to anyone who can to help give their support to the Bushmen at Ranyane to fight for their stay on their land. The international community needs to know that what the government is doing is wrong,”
Survival International has contacted Khama voicing opposition to the planned eviction. The director of Survival International, Stephen Corry, called on all true conservationists to oppose the dispossession, calling it an echo of colonialism that shouldn’t be allowed in 21st century.
This is not the first time Botswana’s Bushmen have been targeted by the government in the name of conservation. In three brutal evictions between 1997 and 2005, thousands of Bushmen were removed from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve supposedly for wildlife conservation.
Bushmen forced off their land in 2002 went to court and Botswana’s High Court ruled in 2006 that the evictions were unlawful and unconstitutional.
In Botswana, Bushmen who have been removed from their land depend entirely on government handouts and frequently suffer from alcoholism, depression and many other illnesses in their resettlement camps.
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