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Botswana Police Service
Poaching in Chobe Worrisome
15/05/13

Poaching of wild animals in the Chobe National Park is a serious threat to Botswana’s economy. If this phenomenon is allowed to continue, Botswana’s valuable trophies will be depleted and there will be nothing left to attract tourists in future.

The increasing  incidents of poaching in the Chobe National Park is said to be affecting giant animals like elephants and other common species like lions, buffalos, waterbucks, giraffes and many more. These species contribute immensely to the country’s economic growth and also attract tourists from far places like Asia, Europe, Australia and the United States of America.

As these tourists drive on Kasane/Ngoma road just near the turn off to Kasane Airport, they are met with a very huge advertisement board written “Welcome to Chobe, Land of the Giants, which confirms the presence of diversity and concentration of animals. These giants include elephants which its poaching is said to be swelling rapidly according to the Police and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Chobe.

In an interview with the Police Magazine during their recent visit to Chobe, Officer Commanding No.7 District which covers Pandamatenga, Kasane, Kazungula and villages of Mabele up to Parakarungu, Senior Superintendent Tamapo Nthoiwa did not hesitate to express concern about poaching in the area despite their efforts to curtail it. Mr Nthoiwa said poachers target elephants and concentrate at areas like Cream of Tartar Pans near Pandamatenga and at places like Natanga, Shaile, Maikaelelo and Ngwezuma Valley that connects to Nogatshaa in the Park.     

Mr Nthoiwa said that there are suspicions that these species especially elephants are killed for commercial purposes and medical use in illegal international markets. “These suspected high markets encourage this kind of poaching and this therefore calls for law enforcement officers to identify the market for elephants poachers so that these endangered species are not left to deplete” he said. Mr Nthoiwa added that another kind of poaching is performed with the objective of providing meat for household consumption.

He said at times poachers were found in possession of elephants’ tusks while in some instances they found elephants carcases with no tusks. Furthermore, Mr Nthoiwa said poaching of species such as Zebras, Kudus, Impalas and Buffaloes is very low as compared to that of elephants. He said the majority of poachers are foreigners from China, Zambia, Angola and Namibia saying investigations revealed that most of the poachers were former law enforcement officers. He also revealed that poachers are well established syndicates who walk the ground on daytime and at night armed with firearms and other dangerous weapons which they use to kill animals. “We have made arrests in some of the cases and some firearms, dangerous weapons, and elephants’ tusks are in our custody and some cases relating to these weapons are still pending before the court of law.

Statistics provided by Kasane Police of elephants which were found dead indicate that seven cases were recorded in 2010 in which 13 elephants were killed, in 2011; the police recorded 20 cases with 25 elephants involved. In 2012, the police recorded 18 cases involving 35 elephants while in 2013 they have recorded two cases involving four elephants. With regard to cases of unlawful possession of elephants’ tusks the police recorded 38 such cases in which 14 people of different nationalities were arrested for some of the cases from 2010 to April 2013.

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