Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Botswana should seek outside assistance on Rhino poaching

Even as government does not release the latest and more recent figures on rhino poaching especially at the Okavango, the scourge continues, almost unabated.

And eyewitnesses say at this rate it will not be long before rhinos go extinct.

Government had taken a mitigating step to remove horns of some rhinos.

This is because rhinos are killed for the horn.

The trouble now is that even dehorned rhinos are increasingly being killed because poachers do their craft mainly at night.

The fact of the matter is Botswana is losing this magnificent species.

Something dramatic has to be done.

If it means relocating whatever is left so be it.

There is the Khama Rhino Sanctuary which could be used to relocate the species.

Botswana has over the years gained international acclaim for the country’s conservation efforts.

But it looks like the country is today fighting a losing battle.

Botswana Defence Force, intelligence services, Department of wildlife, and the police have been trying their best.

They are well equipped, they know the terrain but they are proving no match for the poachers who get in and out of the country at will.

In fact poaching is so rampant in Botswana that it now threatens to destabilise relations with other countries, chiefly because poachers have identified Botswana as a weak link.

It is clear that the poachers are getting more and more determined.

They are also getting more and more sophisticated.

And it goes without saying that their determination means more than ever before they are much more prepared to die and kill for their prize.

There is another dimension.

Because the rhino horns fetch a lot of money, it means the appetite to take risks significantly increases.

There is also an added risk of getting security agents sucked into the underworld activity that they are supposed to fight.

This means there is a huge scope for infiltration and manipulation. Masters of these poachers who are themselves not involved in the operations are able to pay senior people within security agencies who able to do their bidding.

Commanders end up sharing operational information with criminals, thereby not only endangering the lives of other personnel but also sending their charges the wrong way so as to give space to poachers.

That really is likely what is happening in the Okavango.

How can it be that so many soldiers spread over such a small place, camping there 24 hours can be circumvented by poachers almost on a daily basis?

What is happening is staggering.

Security personnel in Botswana have never had to struggle like this with a ragtag of bandits that kill animals at will.

Security personnel are flabbergasted.

They cannot believe what they are seeing.

Embarrassed by the barrage of bad publicity, government has opted to hide information.

That is not a solution.

The solution lies in stopping poaching of rhinos.

Botswana government has reached wits end.

They must seek help from other countries.

Discipline within the ranks and even at leadership of security agencies might be a big issue.

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