It was nearly a five-hour drive from Maun to Shakawe, our first camp. I knew veterinary fences were used extensively across parts of the country to prevent the spread of cattle
|Okavango River near Drotsky's camp.|
lung disease but I didn't know about the checkpoints.
"Are you carrying any meat?" asked the guard at a fence checkpoint along our drive. We had only camping equipment so we passed right through the checkpoint.
The fences stretch for hundreds of miles.
Protecting cattle from disease is important for the beef export market in Botswana. A trade subsidy helps exporters receive a premium for their beef but as part of the deal, the fence precautions must be taken to ensure cattle health.
An environmental impact assessment (EIA) is now being conducting for Botswana's Ministry of Agriculture to address questions about the fences. There are still many land-use questions to address, but the EIA will investigate the impact of fences on migrating wildlife in accessing the Delta's water. It will also study whether fences are a long-term sustainable practice given questions surrounding the viability of the long-term beef export market here in Botswana. Conservation International is a member of the EIA's reference group, adding biological data and giving input to the process. A full report is expected in September.
– Reported by Lani Asato
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