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article imageBotswana's unique Kgalagadi Game Reserve faces mining threat

By Adriana Stuijt     Feb 21, 2009 in Environment
One of the world's largest wildlife reserves. located in Botswana, will soon host mining activities, after its government granted 112 exploration licences to 14 foreign firms for diamond, uranium, coal and base metals exploration in central Botswana.
The indigenous Kalahari San ('bushmen') tribes are already being kicked off the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve which was created specifically for Africa's First Nation to allow them to preserve their unique hunting-gathering lifestyle in central Botswana. This has been their home for many thousands of years. There are now very few clans left in southern Africa.
World famous for its large herds of antelope, the 52,800 square kilometre Cenral Kgalagadi Game Reserve now faces a drastic change, which is going to impact very negatively on the unique lifestyle of the San, said human rights lawyer Duma Boko.
The tribe's survival is also being threatened in Namibia, where the San still maintain a tenuous presence of just several thousand tribal members - and also are threatened by a search by a Canadian company for uranium. See
Boko warns that the forced relocation programme of the San -- which has already been mounted to move the Basarwa clan last year, posed a great threat to their survival in southern Africa. He wanted an urgent meeting with president Ian Khama to find ways to settle this contentious problem.
"The entire Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve had originally been created as their preserve.'
“Maybe if he (Khama) were to apply himself to the case with a fresh mind, he would realise that there is nothing to this case but government’s intransigence."
However, according to Botswana wildlife Minister Kitso Mokaila, the reserve's vast size - equivalent to the two small landlocked mountain kingdoms of Swaziland and Lesotho combined - "justified allocating part of it to foreign mining companies. Why would I want to deny a country that started off as the 26th least developed country the opportunity to do mining? We all know what mining activities have done for this country. We are where we are right now because of mining," Mokaila told Agence France Presse.
Botswana is the world's largest producer of diamonds by value and by volume. It's not clear why they would want to open up new diamond mines: the diamond industry sales have dropped by 60% last year, and De Beers mining company has already announced a large number of closures and job losses in South Africa.
"It has always been the policy of the government of Botswana that where there are minerals, they will be mined," Mokaila said.
"Botswana has been built on the strength of mining. It will be a very good thing (to mine in the park)." see
More about Bushmen, Kalahari, Uranium, Platinum, Namibia
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