By Innocent Molato
Gaborone — Eventhough Botswana is pinning her hopes on tourism to diversify the economy, poaching, which is on the rise, remains a challenge and hinders the country’s efforts in diversifying the economy.
According to a report from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, in 2017/18, 62 elephants were killed compared to 42 in 2016/17. Similarly, there has been an increase in trafficking of elephant tusks as evident that 109 tusks have been trafficked in 2017/2018 (as of end of February) compared to 48 in 2016/2017.
The report also indicates that the Kgalagadi, Gantsi (Central Kalahari Game Reserve in particular), Ngamiland, Central and Chobe Districts are highly affected by poaching due to the fact that most species are concentrated in these areas, especially elephants and predators. Elephants are mostly poached in the Linyanti and Shaile areas along the Namibian Border.
Most poached animals are elephants for the ivory trading, antelopes for consumption.
There is also a new breed of poachers that has cropped up in Kgalagadi area where predators are taken alive for their products (teeth, nails and skin).
Batswana citizens are increasingly becoming more involved in poaching activities while foreign nationals are reported to be the main culprits.
Criminal charges are stipulated in the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act of 1992 CAP 38:01.
The gravity of the charges depends on the type of the species poached.
For instance, for killing an elephant one shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of P50 000 and to imprisonment for 10 years while killing a rhinoceros one shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of P100 000 and to imprisonment of 15 years. Moreover any person who fails to comply with the section on possession of ivory or elephant tusks shall be liable to a fine of P50 000 and to imprisonment of 10 years.
The department of Wildlife and National Parks is putting forward stern measures to help neutralize the increasing poaching in Botswana.
The report further stipulates that the use of the National Anti-Poaching Strategy derived from the SADC Regional Anti-Poaching Strategy is in place to combat poaching.
The department uses, among others, aircraft, vehicles, boats, radios, global positioning systems (GPS) to help in its daily duties to combat poaching.
Source : BOPA