Bots bans harvesting of mopane worm
By Mpho Tebele
GABORONE-THE Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has issued an immediate ban on the harvesting of mopane worm or Imbrassia belina to allow the delicious grub to restock.
The worm is one of the favourite culinary delights across southern Africa mostly in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The ministry’ spokesperson, Game Garenna, said the sightings of phane as they are known in Botswana have been made in areas where it was harvested during the months of December 2016 and January 2017.
However, the department of forestry and range resources has stopped issuing harvesting permits for mopane worm in such areas.
“Therefore, the public is advised to stop harvesting and return home from harvesting sites immediately,” he said.
According to Garenna, this decision was reached as a conservation measure to allow the mopane worm to pupate or burrow into the ground and become stock for the next season so as to increase the severely depleted numbers of mopane worms in the country.
“The department applauds some harvesters for having been very cooperative in the last harvesting season, though some unsustainable harvesting practices were reported in some areas such as Tsetsebjwe, Molalatau and Mathathane villages (in central Botswana) where harvesters turned out in large numbers,” said Garenna.
He added that the observed bad practices, include cutting down mopane tree branches (mopane worms feed off these branches) as well as harvesting mopane worm, which was escaping or burrowing into the ground to become stock for the next season.
Garenna said this unsustainable harvesting practice is punishable, according to the Agricultural Resources Conservation Act.
On a related issue, the ministry states that subject to provisions of the Agricultural Resources Conservation Act and its associated regulations, any person who wishes to deal in or export any veldt product must obtain a dealer and/or export permit for that product.
Mopane dealers in particular, are also advised that the ministry will continue to issue harvesting, dealers and export permits to facilitate mopane trade both locally and with neighbouring countries.
“Exporters are advised to obtain the appropriate documents and licences for them to trade in different countries as per the requirements for those countries.
“Harvesters are also advised to seek permission from land owners or farms in the event they want to enter their premises for harvesting. Failure to seek that consent is an offence punishable by law,” the ministry said in a statement.
Potential exporters were further advised to contact country embassies to obtain information on licences and/or permits, which will allow them to trade in different neighbouring countries.
Garenna further pointed out that: “Mopane dealers should also note that an export permit is required at export points when mopane is exported, and that issuance of export permits is not affected by the stoppage of issuing of licences.”
Harvesters were further warned to always adhere to regulations and/or conditions stipulated on the export permit.