Botswana: Rhino poachers on the prowl

APA-Gaborone (Botswana)

Poachers have broken into Botswana’s safe reserves killing a protected second rhino in a space of week, APA learnt here Wednesday.

According to the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife spokesperson Alice Mmolawa, a rhino was killed on 2 October, a few days after another poaching incident was recorded on 27 September in the core rhino range in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana.

“This poaching incident brings the number of rhinoceros poached this financial year alone from 1 April 2019 up to now to nine, an unprecedented number,” she said.

Mmolawa said the increased poaching of rhinos is deeply worrying in a country that has over the last few years received rhinos in an effort to safeguard and revive the rhino population.

“Botswana does not have many wild rhinos, our population is relatively small” said Mmadi Reuben, Department of Wildlife and National Parks Rhino coordinator in Botswana.

He added: “We have been losing about a rhino a month to poaching; losing two in one week is unacceptable. If the poaching continues at this rate there will be no rhinos in Botswana in a year or two, especially the black rhino a ‘critically endangered species’.”

This will be a huge loss for the country with a strict anti-poaching policy to which the government has committed substantial resources.

The government of Botswana said in a statement said the anti-poaching forces have now placed the protection of rhinos and location of the poaching gangs as their highest priority, with two poachers having lost their lives during operations recently.

However, the government conceded that the Okavango Delta is a very large area with difficult wetland terrain, which the poachers are taking advantage of.

Engaging the communities in the Okavango Delta to increase awareness as well as private sector and non-governmental organisations will also be crucial in the fight against wildlife crime.

Rhino poaching has been on the increase in the southern African region, with South Africa possibly being the worst hit.

Namibia also recently recorded poaching of rhinos.

Rhino poachers, it seems, have now turned their attention to Botswana.

The Botswana government said that it would continue to improve efforts and is committed to mobilizing more resources to combat and eradicate this scourge.


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