Drought claims lives of 89 zebras at Botswana game ranch

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zebra-lewisDrought is being blamed for the deaths of 89 zebras at the game ranch of Botswana’s second president, Sir Ketumile Masire.

Masire said this week that the scarcity of water at his ranch near Sekoma in the Southern District had greatly affected his herd of 300 zebras at the game farm, about 15km from Sekoma where he also keeps eland, gemsbok, hartebeest and wildebeest.

“A 23km pipeline that has been supplying the animal reservoir had burst some time ago, and with the lack of sufficient water sources and the current drought, the zebras eventually started perishing,” Masire said.

He said he had long known that the zebras would be the most affected.

“I reported this to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, who initially sent a team of inspectors to the ranch early last year. I later contacted them about selling some of the zebras to them, but we could not agree terms. They later offered P3000 for every beast, which I was ready to accept, but the deal never went through,” Sir Ketumile said.

He said the standard price in South African ranches for a zebra is about R6000.

“Unlike cattle farming where I am in full control of my herd and can easily sell to other farmers, wild animals are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks even if they are in a private ranch. So I do not have the same authority I have with livestock. You have to go through the government department,” Sir Ketumile said.

He said that wildlife farming had its difficulties, as water was scarce and the underground water was highly saline.

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