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BOTSWANA SELLS RIGHTS TO FRACKING IN KGALAGADI PARK

12/07/2015

The government of Botswana quietly sold the rights to frack for shale gas in nearly half of the Kgalagadi Park. Prospecting licenses were granted to a UK-listed company called Nodding Donkey in September 2014, although the sale was not reported. The company recently changed its name to Karoo Energy. The park is located along the border of South Africa and spans more than 36,000 sq. km. It is one of Africa’s largest conservation areas and is home to pygmy falcons, the gemsbok desert antelope, and black-maned Kalahari lions. Conservationists and park officials, who were not informed of the sale before it was made, worry about the impact of drilling on wildlife, water sources, and rural communities. Scientist Gus Mills commented that development of the park will likely make it less attractive to tourists and visitors. Botswana’s tourism industry is the country’s second largest industry after diamonds and employs 32,000 people. Olmo von Meijenfeldt, director of the South African organization Democracy Works, criticized the sale explaining that “[g]overnments should be reluctant if not downright hostile towards extracting natural resources for a short-term benefit that will contribute to a deterioration of habitat and our long-term capacity for sustainable development and poverty alleviation.” For the full story, see http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/02/botswana-sells-fracking-rights-in-national-park