De Beers returns to Central Kalahari Game Reserve – Survival International relaunches campaign

Revealed: De Beers diamond prospectors at work in Bushman reserve in Botswana

Survival International is relaunching its campaign against De Beers after the discovery that the company has returned to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana. Its new diamond exploration programme will be devastating for the Bushmen, and the reserve’s ecology. The area it is investigating is around the Bushman community of Metsiamenong.

De Beers’s previous attempts to mine for diamonds in the reserve led to a massive international campaign. Survival called for a boycott of De Beers, successfully persuaded supermodels Iman and Lily Cole to stop working with the company, and protested outside the openings of its stores in London and New York.

The campaign ended when the company sold its $2.2 billion deposit to Gem Diamonds for $34 million.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘We are dismayed that De Beers feels that it can now return to the reserve whilst the situation with the Bushmen is still unresolved. Presumably it hoped no-one would notice. Hundreds of Bushmen still languish in relocation camps, unable to return home because the government won’t let them hunt or use their water borehole.

'We intend to do everything in our power to help them, which will include targeting De Beers and trying to persuade people to boycott De Beers until the Bushmen have access to their lands and water. The Bushmen cannot conceivably give their free and informed consent to mining whilst most of them cannot even go home.’

Two years ago the Bushmen won a landmark court case over their right to live in the reserve, which is their ancestral land. They had been evicted by the government. The court recognized they have the right to live there, and to hunt and gather.

The rich diamond deposits in the reserve were widely thought to be behind the government’s determination to evict the Bushmen. The boom in diamond mining and exploration in the reserve threatens one of the largest game reserves in Africa, despite the fact that Botswana’s President, Ian Khama, is on the board of US-based Conservation International.

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email mr@survival-international.org