Saturday, March 2, 2024

New wave of rhino poaching spotlights security of Khama Rhino Sanctuary

The discovery of a dismembered rhino carcass in a private game farm near Machaneng in the Tswapong areas late last year has brought home new realities that Botswana is not immune from the poaching carnage that has hitherto been confined to television images.

The rhino had its horns removed.

The killing elicited wide spread panic among wildlife enforcement agencies leading the ministry to send high-placed emissaries to the farm to establish how the poachers had been missed even as there had earlier been intelligence to the effect that three armed and suspicious men had been spotted in the surroundings.

The killing has also raised questions on the security and safety of the Khama Rhino Sanctuary just outside Serowe, which is home to close to 50 rhinos ÔÇô one of the largest herds confined to a manned range anywhere in the world.

In a recent written interview to this publication recently, the Chief Game Warden of the sanctuary, Moremi Chibaye, however downplayed fears that the Khama Rhino Sanctuary could be a target of poaching currently routing other parts of the world.

“The sanctuary is secured with the assistance of the BDF. We have never encountered any incident of poaching within the sanctuary. That is news to us,” he said in response to questions that any of the animals could be missing.

Chibaye said it is a policy of the Sanctuary not to disclose the renewal numbers of their stock for fear of attracting the attention of poachers.

He emphatically said none of the rhinos was missing.

“None of our rhinos are missing. At times because the sanctuary is big, we are unable to locate some rhinos. That does not mean that they would have gone missing or were stolen because they are later accounted for upon discover,” he said.

Not long ago the intelligence services had picked on a team of Asians masquerading as tourists at the Sanctuary.

It was later discovered that they were a reconnaissance advance team collecting data for the poachers.

As a result government reinforced the Botswana Defence Force contingents manning the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
He also refused to disclose the number of the rhinos housed in the sanctuary saying disclosure has potential to attract the attention of poachers. “We never disclose the numbers for fear of alerting the poachers”.

A spokesperson of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks also said they were not aware of any rhino missing at Khama Rhino Sanctuary.

Responding to a questionnaire, Bogale-Jaiyeoba said the management of KRS regularly shares reports on the status of rhinos and their security with DWNP.

“There have been no reports on any security breaches which would have led to rhinos to being removed from the Sanctuary,” she said.


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