Botswana has over the years gained reputation for zero-tolerance approach to poaching, with international appeal on the rise through its previous "shoot- to- kill" policy against perpetrators. However, the latest trends are proving otherwise. At least 24 rhinos have been poached since April last year, an unprecedented rate that could see rhinos wiped out in the southern African country by 2021.
According to the latest statistics rhinos could be at risk in Botswana. An unknown source within the Department of Wildlife and National Parks says the current situation that the country faces could be attributed to their incompetence. Botswana is home to just under 400 rhinos, according to Rhino Conservation Botswana, most of which roam the grassy plains of the northern Okavango Delta.
Last year October, the Phys Org reported that thousands of rhinos that once roamed Africa and Asia have been culled by poaching and habitat loss. Very few are found outside national parks and reserves, where they remain threatened in Botswana. A ministry of environment statement at the time (October) said two rhinos were poached within five days in the Okavango late last month, raising the total number to nine since April.
"We have been losing about a rhino a month to poaching," said Mmadi Reuben, rhino coordinator for Botswana's wildlife department in the statement. "If the poaching continues at this rate there will be no rhinos in Botswana in a year or two, especially the black rhino." While southern white rhinos have been rescued from extinction, black rhinos are still considered critically endangered, with only around 4, 200 living in the wild.
Less than 20 are found in Botswana, which is also home to the continent's largest elephant population. Botswana has a zero-tolerance approach to poaching and previously operated a "shoot-to-kill" policy against perpetrators. "The anti-poaching forces have now placed the protection of rhinos and location of these poaching gangs as their highest priority," said the statement, adding that two perpetrators were killed in recent operations.
The international organisation also reports that poaching is escalating in the region, driven by demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, and authorities are overwhelmed. "The Okavango is a very large area with difficult wetland terrain, which these poachers are using to their advantage," said the ministry.
Sold for up to 55, 000 euros ($60,300) per kilo on the black market, rhino horn is used in traditional medicine or as a symbol of wealth and success. Botswana's neighbour South Africa lost more than 7,100 rhinos over the past decade, including 769 in 2018. Namibia has also recorded recent incidents of rhino poaching, which leaves the animal bleeding to death after its horn is hacked off.
Despite repeated calls and follow ups of emails, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks could not avail answers to a questionnaire sent to them in December last year. At the time of going to press they had promised via telephone call to answer questions fielded to them but at the time of going to press their phones rang unanswered.
The outgoing President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, shares his thoughts with us as he leaves the Bench at the end of this year.
WeekendPost: Why did you move between the Attorney General and the Bench?
Ian Kirby: I was a member of the Attorney General’s Chambers three times- first in 1969 as Assistant State Counsel, then in 1990 as Deputy Attorney General (Civil), and finally in 2004 as Attorney General. I was invited in 2000 by the late Chief Justice Julian Nganunu to join the Bench. I was persuaded by former President Festus Mogae to be his Attorney General in 2004 as, he said, it was my duty to do so to serve the nation. I returned to the Judiciary as soon as I could – in May 2006, when there was a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
Botswana’s civil society is one of the non-state actors that could save the country’s democracy from sliding into regression, a Germany based think tank has revealed. This is according to a discussion paper by researchers at the German Development Institute who analysed the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes In Botswana.
In the paper titled “E-government and democracy in Botswana: Observational and experimental evidence on the effects of e-government usage on political attitudes,” the researchers offer a strongly worded commentary on Botswana’s ‘flawed democracy.’ The authors noted that with Botswana’s Parliament structurally – and in practice – feeble, the potential for checks and balances on executive power rests with the judiciary.
Bangwato in Serowe — where Bamagwato Paramount Chief and former President Lt. Gen Ian Khama originates – disagree on whether they must send a delegation to dialogue with President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s family in Moshupa. Just last week, a meeting was called by the Regent of Bamagwato, Kgosi Sediegeng Kgamane, at Serowe Kgotla to, among others, update the tribe on the whereabouts of their Kgosi (Khama).
Further, his state of health was also discussed, with Kgamane telling the attendees that all is well with Khama. The main reason for the meeting was to deliberate on the escalating tension between Khama and Masisi — a three-year bloodletting going unabated.