TED Case Studies

Botswana Cattle Ranches and Trade

I. Identification

1. The Issue

The grasslands of Botswana contain more than twice as many cattle as people. Botswana's national cattle herd has grown from a few hundred thousand cattle in 1950 to close to three million today. Due to European import restrictions on meat, the cattle must be kept inside fences to avoid disease. Cattle raising, and the accompanying fences, have drastically reduced the once plentiful wildlife of the country's plains and disrupted migratory patterns. Environmentalists are now fighting to preserve one of the continent's last great wild areas from cattle ranchers, whose fences are denying buffalo, zebra, and wildebeest (protected under CITES) access to migration routes, and local bushmen access to their traditional lands.

2. Description

Environmental groups are pressuring several developed countries to deny Botswana cattle subsides under terms of trade agreed to under the Lome convention. These subsidies, coupled with strict restrictions on imports, have led to the construction of cattle fences in Botswana. If the cattle fences in Botswana remain, then it is likely that several species of wildlife will be damaged, because their migration routes will be disrupted. Scientists invited by the government of Botswana to study Botswana's cattle problems, concluded that "when the interests of wildlife and cattle come into conflict, the wildlife loses".

European meat import regulations require the fences to be built to stop cattle from contracting foot and mouth disease, which the cattle contact from wild buffalo. The ecological damage due to the beef industry on Botswana's wildlife has been considerable because of the concentration of animals within the fenced areas. According to Per Wramner, a leading Swedish scientist, "vast areas of natural habitats have been degraded in many parts of the country. The main cause is the expansion of the cattle industry". Beef exports to Europe are worth more than $100 million a year to Botswana. Botswana has tried to sooth tensions with environmentalists by allowing them to study the impact of the fences on migration routes. It has instituted a National Conservation Strategy and hired a London public relations firms to improve its image. However, critics claim the national policy is vague and that the hiring of a public relations firm only confirms that Botswana is merely concerned about its public image, not the habitat of its wildlife.

3. Related Cases

(br>BRAZIL case
COSTBEEF case
GHANA case (br>EUMEAT case
MADCOW case

4. Draft Author:Forbes W. Hayes

II. Legal Clusters

5. Discourse and Status: DISagreement and Allegation [ALLEGE]

There are only allegations against the Botswana cattle ranges, but "the conflict between wildlife and the cattle ranches threatens the cozy relationship between Botswana's elite and the West."

6. Forum and Scope:

7. Decision Breadth:1 (Botswana)

8. Legal Standing: LAW

III. Geographic Clusters

9. Geographic Locations

a. Geographic Domain: AFRica

b. Geographic Site: Southern Africa [SAFR]

c. Geographic Impact: BOTSwana

10. Sub-National Factors:NO

11. Type of Habitat:Temperate [TEMP]

The habitat is mostly a dry savanna characterized by wet and dry periods throughout the year.

IV. Trade Clusters

12. Type of Measure: Regulatory Standard [REGSTD]

13. Direct v. Indirect Impacts: INDirect

There is no problem with the actual beef exports to Europe, but rather with the way that the cattle are raised and the subsequent impact on the environment (see TUNA case).

14. Relation of Trade Measure to Environmental Impact

a. Directly Related to Product: NO

b. Indirectly Related to Product: YES BEEF

c. Not Related to Product: NO

d. Related to Process: YES HABITat Loss

15. Trade Product Identification: MEAT

16. Economic Data

Botswana has just 5,000 farmers, many of them government officials. The country has a population of 1.5 million but also one of the world's greatest disparities between rich and poor. According to the United Nations, the income of the wealthiest 20 percent of Botswana's population is 24 times that of the poorest 20 percent, a ratio exceeded only by Brazil (see BRAZIL case).

Cattle exports account for about $100 million a year, but cattle exports account for only about two percent of Botswana's export earnings. Most of Botswana's export earnings come from diamond, copper, and nickel mining. Cattle ranching provides a huge return on investment. A study by the International Labor Organization (ILO) noted that the return on investment in cattle was 2 to 1 in a non-drought year, but as much as 50 to 1 in a drought year. In 1986, Botswana's cattle population was 2,332,000 and total beef industry output $405 million.

17. Impact of Trade Restriction:LOW

18. Industry Sector:FOOD

19. Exporters and Importers: BOTSwana and MANY

Most of Botswana's beef exports go to Europe

V. Environment Clusters

20. Environmental Problem Type:HABITat Loss

The environmental problem is the loss of habitat for the black rhino, roan antelope, oribi, waterbuck, sable antelope, klipspringer, white rhino, mountain reedbuck and puku. The localizing of large ruminants also acts to degrade the habitat. Seasonal migrations shift the sites where these animals graze and therefore tend to minimize damage on a single area. Fences defeat this purpose by focusing animals in a limited space.

21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species

Name: MANY

Type: MANY

Diversity: 40 mammals per 10,000 km/sq (Botswana)

22. Resource Impact and Effect:MEDium and Structural [STRCT]

Many areas of Botswana are of course still open and therefore the overall impact of enclosing some areas to migration is not overwhelming, but may be important in drought years when marginal lands are keys to species survival. The problem is structural in nature, via the Lome convention which encourages this type of industry.

23. Urgency of Problem: MEDIUM

24. Substitutes: LIKE products

Some suggest that the existing ruminants (such as zebras, antelope and other animals) could be managed and culled and that these products might replace beef exports.

VI. Other Factors

25. Culture:NO

26. Trans-Boundary Issues:YES

This is a trans-border problem because migratory patterns of animals that are affected by the fences cross Botswana's borders with neighboring countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

27. Rights:NO

28. Relevant Literature

Abucar, Mohamed H.; Molutsi, Patrick. "Environmental Policy in    
Botswana: A Critique."  Africa Today 40/1 (1993): 61-73.

Comaroff, Jean.; Comaroff, John L. "Goodly Beasts, Beastly Goods: 
Cattle and Commodities in a South African Context."  American
Ethnologist 17 (May 1990): 196-216.

Pearce, Fred. "Botswana: Enclosing for Beef."  The Ecologist      
23/1 (1993): 25-29.

Pearce, Fred. "Beef for Europe Threatens Botswana's Wildlife."    
New Scientist 134 (May 23, 1992): 10.

Rufai, Misbahu.  "Fighting to Save the Environment."  American    
Muslim Journal (Apr. 10, 1992): 21:1.

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