Friday, May 24, 2024

Government admits to rhino poaching inside sanctuary

The government has finally admitted to the rhino poaching incidents that occurred at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (KRS).

The killings, which occurred in 2022, have been kept a secret by officials.

However, answering a question from Serowe South Member of Parliament Leepetswe Lesedi, Minister of Tourism Philda Kereng admitted to the killings.

“Two (2) rhinos were poached at Khama Rhino Sanctuary during the period October to November 2022,” the Minister told Parliament on Monday February 20, 2023.

She said investigations into the poaching incidences were still ongoing, arguing that it would be premature to make any conclusions as to how poachers managed to breach the tight security at the sanctuary.

The Telegraph first broke the story in August 2022 although the Minister says the poaching incidents occurred Between October and November 2022.

“Two weeks ago a white rhino was poached at Khama Rhino Sanctuary but they are denying it happened at their property but sources inside DWNP confirm it was indeed at KRS,” a source told this publication in August 2022.

Speaking to this publication following the reports KRS Chief Warden Thapelo Baiphethi denied any knowledge of a poaching incident within the park. He said the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) were the ones providing protection around the sanctuary and they were the ones who would inform him of such an incident. “As of now I have not been informed of any incident involving poachers within our perimeters,” KRS Chief Warren said interview.

Addressing Parliament this week Tourism Minister Kereng said Botswana experienced a significant increase in incidences of rhino poaching in 2020. “These incidences can be attributed to a number of factors including, an increased demand for rhino horn in the international market hence poachers looked for places where rhinos are around and also a displacement of international criminal syndicates from other Southern African states.”

She said in 2018 Botswana lost seven rhinos to poachers while in 2019, a total of 30 rhinos were also killed. “In 2020 we lost 62 to poaching. In the year 2021, following an increased anti- poaching interventions, 33 rhinos lost to poachers and only 6 rhinos poached during the year 2022. On account of these trends, it is evident that the interventions being implemented are bearing fruit. Therefore a total of 138 rhinos were lost to poachers from 2018 up to 2022. In terms of animals that have died due to natural causes a total of 76 rhinos were lost to natural causes. The country lost 5 in 2018, 18 rhinos in 2019, 22 in 2020, 15 in 2021 and 16 in 2022 rhinos. Most of these mortalities are from old age, disease and/or injuries sustained during rhino fights, mostly amongst males fighting for breeding territories.”

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper