Monday, July 4, 2022

Growing concern over poaching in Botswana

The Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) is seriously concerned about the escalating incidents of poaching across Botswana reported widely in the media recently, the Public Relations and Marketing Expert, Sophia Walters, has said.

She said that reports on confiscations of bush-meat (venison), ivory and live wildlife species from the Kgalagadi, Ngamiland, Chobe and surrounding districts suggests a severe depletion of wildlife through wanton poaching, further exacerbates KCS’ concern.

“These reports come against the backdrop of recent research findings showing the decline of some of Botswana’s wildlife populations, due to anthropogenic activities such as poaching. In the wake of these unsavoury revelations, KCS views poaching as a serious threat to Botswana’s wildlife and is, therefore, rallying the public to embark on concerted efforts to stem this tide and engage in more environmentally friendly alternative livelihood opportunities.”

Poaching comprises the illegal removal of wildlife from the environment through hunting, killing or live capture. The hunting or killing of wildlife for subsistence or commercial purposes outside designated times as well as the use of prohibited, form part of the poaching malice. The common practice involves sourcing game or bush-meat, wildlife trophies, tusks, skins or bones. What sets bush apart from game meat is the fact that the former obtained through poaching is destined for the lucrative illegal markets, while the latter, which is hunted legally through permits or licences, targets the legal markets. KCS by virtue of its mandate respects strict observance of the rule of law and stands four square behind the sustainable legal route.

“However, the Society strongly abhors illegal means of accessing and obtaining resources, notably poaching,” she said. “Even more disturbing is the fact that both citizens and their foreign counterparts have been implicated in poaching. Some apparently involve international syndicates engaged in cross-border trafficking of fauna and its products, much to the peril of our national and natural heritage.”

She added: “KCS applauds the Government for deploying anti-poaching personnel and related security in prone areas across the country. But, the ultimate onus rests upon all Batswana, individually or collectively, to combat poaching and save our wildlife resources. Let us stand tall, be proud, patriotic and be counted!”

Be that as it may, the ultimate resolution of incidence of internal poaching is a long-term issue, requiring the evolution and reconciliation of equitable and sustainable resource utilization arrangements amongst the country’s various wildlife stakeholders. KCS is committed to assist with technical support in facilitating these arrangements.

“KCS’ steadfast position is that the entire nation should contribute towards anti-poaching as a conservation of wild life resources best practice. Without adoption of this holistic principle, Botswana stands to lose its wild life resources and jeopardize conservation and sustainable utilization efforts”, Walters stressed.

The Society calls for tapping on a cultural and ethical directions as a clarion call in the resuscitation of wildlife resource conservation programmes. The advantages of adopting the cultural-based model breathe hope of environmental conservation resuscitation initiatives. This is largely due to the fact that the embodiment of culture among the country’s diverse ethnicities; indigenous practices such as avoidance of hunting female species and their young; adherence to hunting seasons and discriminate hunting of wild animal types through observance of totems, she said.

The KCS said it is more disturbing that both citizens and non-citizens have been implicated in poaching activities.

“Some apparently involve international syndicates in cross-border trafficking of animals and animal products, much to the threat of our national and natural heritage” said Walter. She explained that poachers engage outside dealers when they sell abroad, in particular rhinoceros horns for medicinal purposes and elephant tusks for ornaments. Walter said species most threatened by poaching are rhinoceros and elephant adding that poaching can either be for domestic, subsistence, or for commercial purposes.

“The most problematic poaching in Botswana is commercial poaching because it is unsustainable,” said Walter.

She said the elephant poaching levels are currently at their worst in a decade, and seizures of illegal ivory are at their highest level in years.

Walter also said a report produced by Botswana’s National Vision 2016 Council has revealed the population of over 11 wildlife species has dwindled by as much as 90 percent in a 10-year period between 1994 and 2004.

“Dr. Mike Chase (Elephants without Borders) has observed that many of the key wildlife species (with the exception of elephant and zebra) have declined in northern Botswana – a trend that has likely been going on since the mid 1990s.” she said.

The government of Botswana, she said, has put in place resources through BDF, DWNP anti-poaching and patrols, amongst others, to address poaching and there has been notable success over the years.

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