afrol News, 1 October - For the 44th time, Batswana citizens this week celebrated their independence. Also in Maun, close to the Okavango Delta, traditions were upheld - although they had to be moved to protect a rare bird.
For the past several years, citizens of the remote town of Maun in northern Botswana have celebrated Independence Day with a fishing competition at the end of September in the Okavango Panhandle. But celebrations have coinciding with the peak breeding time for the threatened bird species African Skimmer.
"This species nests on exposed sandbanks along the Okavango River, and the presence of a large number of fishermen and their boats has had a negative impact on its breeding success," according to the environmentalist group BirdLife Botswana.
This year however, the fishing competition is under new management, and the organiser, Heather Clark from Bush Boutique in Maun agreed to move the venue to Chanoga on the Boteti River - a rich fishing site not populated by the African Skimmer.
BirdLife Botswana commended Bush Boutique for this change of location, "and we hope that this year's competition is a great success," the group said.
"We are not against people who enjoy fishing and we believe that there is a place for birds and fishermen in the vastness of the Okavango," the environmentalists added. The fishing competition would be a test of whether this was true or not.
As another evidence that environmentalist ideology has reached the remote area, the fishing competition had also changed its guidelines during this year's Independence Day celebration.
The competition this year was run under a "catch and release" approach, and fishermen participating were urged to adhere to the "Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing in the Okavango Delta."
Maun is the main gateway to Botswana's famous and spectacular wildlife scene - the Okavango Delta - made famous through innumerable nature documentaries. The Delta is among Botswana's main tourist attractions and eco-tourism is an increasingly important employer in the Maun region.
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