Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) is organizing a workshop in Botswana that will bring together experts and stakeholders from the region and overseas to share information on best anti-poaching practices. SAREP is a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project which supports the initiatives of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to advance regional integration through activities that increase capacity for managing shared natural resources. In an interview with Sunday Standard, SAREP Director Steve Johnson confirmed that his organization is working in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to host a workshop that will bring together stakeholders in an effort to share experiences and expertise on wildlife anti-poaching.
“The ruthlessness of poachers is becoming very bold and we need to be ahead of the curve”, Johnson said. He says they have picked a trend where poachers now work as syndicates and it is therefore imperative to bring together officials from the police, customs, and intelligence services. He also said communities need to be educated on poaching because they can play an integral part as informers to the law enforcement agencies. “A poacher can brag at a local bar about a rhino he killed and if members of the community are sensitized on these issues then they readily tip off law enforcement officers”, he said. He said their aim is to assist government to curb poaching through working smart and not harder. He said the aim of the workshop is to come up with latest methods that can help curb poaching without necessarily deploying a contingent of armed anti-poaching personnel to guard the animals. The workshop is scheduled to take place in Gaborone on a date to be announced in the next coming weeks.
The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade, threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) , wildlife crime has become a big business that is run by dangerous international networks. Wildlife and animal parts are trafficked much like illegal drugs and arms. By its very nature, it is almost impossible to obtain reliable figures for the value of illegal wildlife trade but according to WWF, experts at TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, estimate that it runs into hundreds of millions of US Dollars. Illegal wildlife trade is driven by high profit margins and as such vulnerable wild animals are pushed further to the edge of extinction when nature can’t replenish their stocks to keep up with the rate of human consumption. Botswana has not escaped the calamity of wildlife poaching. So serious is the situation of poaching in Botswana that the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) have been roped in to help the Department of Wildlife in the fight against poaching. In an effort to lend a helping hand.