Three Zambian men, believed to be part of a cross border poaching syndicate operating along the Chobe River, were this week shot dead by a contingent of Botswana Defence Force, Botswana Police, Directorate of Intelligence Services and Wildlife Department personnel.
Reports from Kasane state that the Botswana anti-poaching unit spotted four armed suspected poachers; in an exchange of fire inside the Chobe National Park, three of the suspected poachers were killed while one crossed into Zambia.
Two mobile phones with Zambian SIM cards and 12 elephant tusks were allegedly recovered from the dead poachers. The anti poaching unit was also engaged in an exchange of fire with a band of four poachers on Sunday, no casualties were reported.
Botswana Police Service Public Relations Officer, assistant police commissioner Christopher Mbulawa, confirmed the incident.
“On Saturday a patrol team made up of law enforcement agencies had a shoot out with what we believe to be suspected poachers in the Chobe National Park,” he said
He explained that apparently there were about four suspected poachers that were spotted in the park at which an exchange of fire erupted between the two parties.
He said during the shootout at least three suspected poachers were shot dead while one poacher escaped and has not yet been arrested.
He said although they have not yet established the identity and the nationality of the deceased, they strongly believe that the deceased are from neighbouring countries of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
“I cannot as for now say the deceased might be from Zambia or not because we have to establish their nationalities first and the investigation will reveal that,” said Mbulawa.
He further said twelve tusks, a fire arm and live rounds of an AK 47 ammunition where recovered from the scene.
Mbulawa said that the deceased are in Kasane Hospital waiting for the post-mortem to be conducted to will determine the cause of death.
The police reported that between April and July of this year about 16 elephants were killed and their tusks removed but no suspects were arrested.