Botswana government will in the few months receive a donation from the neighbouring South Africa of around thirty black rhinos, designed to bolster the country’s tourism sector. The move is expected to save the endangered wild animals from extinction, persistently killed by the poachers for their precious and lucrative horns. The two countries which share a common border have been hard hit by trophy theft as poachers kill the threatened rhinos and elephants for tusks, reportedly destined for Asian markets at which the products are a windfall business.
“Some may think the move was a political overture. You may recall we banned hunting at the beginning of the year to protect the animals,” said Tshekedi Khama, Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism.
He added: “South Africa will be donating 20-30 black rhinos to our country sometime in July. Some of the endangered species will be transferred to Moremi, Makgadikgadi and Thuli game reserves.”
Officiating at the opening ceremony of Jwaneng Cresta hostel Tuesday, Khama would not rule out Jwaneng Park obtaining some of the animals.
“Some 250 white rhinos will also be coming to us from Libya with 50 destined for Orapa. We will also swap our rhinos with South Africa to mix the genre pool,” he said.
Inspired by a picture of portrait of animals donated to him by Cresta management as a token of appreciation, Khama returned to the podium to share his undivided love for wild animals. Seconding diamond sector as the country’s revenue earner and employer, the tourism sector comes with challenges especially animal-human conflict. For a long time the country has employed methods to diversify the economy away from the mineral resources specially the diamond sector as the beef industry stumbled and the agriculture plummeted to low levels.
“The animals will be closely monitored despite the challenges including animal-human conflict. Khama Rhino should not be seen as the only savior of the animals. We therefore ask you to come on board for the safety of rhinos,” Khama pleaded with Jwaneng residents.
Alongside the harassment and killing of rhinos, elephant population is also threatened with the animals finding refuge in Botswana game reserves. The exodus has not escaped the attention of Botswana government as poachers infiltrate the country in pursuit of the animals.
“Political conflicts and fights in neighboring countries including Angola have led to the exodus of the elephants as poachers enter the country. We are challenged and bear the brunt as poachers (local and foreign) kill the animals indiscriminately,” said Khama.
Botswana banned wildlife hunting at the beginning of the year ostensibly for the safety of wildlife. Critics say the move is for the President’s personal interest citing President Khama’s close ties with tourism enterprise Wilderness Safaris. Unlike its endangered peer the black rhino, the white rhino has since been saved and introduced in Botswana with such facilities like Khama Rhino sanctuary and the Thuli. The black rhino can be seen in South Africa and Western and Eastern African countries though with limited numbers because of poaching for its long horns.