The Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ anti-poaching measures have once again come under heavy scrutiny after an unprecedented 11 rhinos were killed in just 11 months. A response from the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism to an inquiry by this publication suggests that rhino poaching numbers have been increasing in the last 11 months.
Two carcasses which were discovered at Mombo Island between Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th this week brings to a total 11 rhinos which were killed in the last 11 months after the new administration resorted on disarmament of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Anti- Poaching Unit, a move which led to increased cases of poaching especially on elephants. A close source revealed to WeekendPost that during Khama’s administration only one rhino was killed in 10 years.
A system known as the Rhino Safe Track System was used by members of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) to ensure the safety of rhinos. This was referenced to former President Ian Khama’s interest in the tourism industry, which he gave first priority. However, this week the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said they have not abandoned the rhino safe track system but could not divulge any more information on the matter.
Government could also not comment on Mike Chase’s report saying they are still studying the report. Chase made damning revelations against government anti-poaching measures when it was reported that about 90 elephants were killed in just few months following the disarmament of the Wildlife department following President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decree. The matter made international headlines, putting Botswana on the spotlight, with her conservation record also put to question.
During a media tour organized by government to clarify the matter reported, there were allegations that government maybe deliberately under reporting the extent of poaching in Botswana for the fear of affecting the local tourism sector. Heralded as a conservation success story, Botswana has in recent years received rhino donations from the Republic of South Africa where rhinos were killed in large numbers by poachers. But of late there is an apparent fear that given the lax in anti- poaching operations in Botswana, the country is following in to the footsteps of South Africa.
One of the discoveries made by Mike Dr Chase and his team, in the study concluded last year October has been the big numbers of poached elephants in the Khwai area. “Elephant poaching has been ongoing for more than two years. From the carcasses we have seen today it is clear that poachers take out elephants of all ages. It’s serious but no one is doing anything about this growing problem which will affect the local tourism sector,” the report indicated.
Elephants Without Borders, a conservation group, said results from an ongoing elephant census in Botswana indicate poaching has surged. The spike coincided with the disarming of anti- poaching units, the group said. Masisi, who took office last year, said weapons were withdrawn from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in line with legislation that bars the department from being armed.
An official previously specified that the weapons in question are for military use, further elaborating that the department does retain any firearms. And all security agencies have been involved in anti- poaching operations since the 1980s, according to the government. Accustomed to international praise for conservation efforts, Botswana has come under scrutiny from groups such as PETA that suggest an outcry over the weapons issue could hurt wildlife tourism here.
WeekendPost understands that currently the bulk of anti- poaching operations are undertaken by Botswana Defence Force in Ngamiland. However, the BDF is also said to be thin on the ground due to limited resources. Information reaching this publication suggest that when the NG 32 rhino was killed some of the BDF anti-poaching officers based in Ngamiland were still engaged in Gantsi area where three other rhinos were killed in private properties this year for their horns.
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee (CC) meeting, chaired by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi late last month, resolved that the party’s next Secretary-General (SG) should be a full-time employee based at Tsholetsa House and not active in politics.
The resolution by the CC, which Masisi proposed, is viewed as a ploy to deflate the incumbent, Mpho Balopi’s political ambitions and send him into political obscurity. The two have not been on good terms since the 2019 elections, and the fallout has been widening despite attempts to reconcile them. In essence, the BDP says that Balopi, who is currently a Member of Parliament, Minister of Employment, Labour Productivity and Skills Development, and a businessman, is overwhelmed by the role.
The Botswana Defence Force (BDF)-Namibians fatal shooting tragedy Inquest has revealed through autopsy report that the BDF carried over 800 bullets for the mission, 32 of which were discharged towards the targets, and 19 of which hit the targets.
This would mean that 13 bullets missed the targets-in what would be a 60 percent precision rate for the BDF operation target shooting. The Autopsy report shows that Martin Nchindo was shot with five (4) bullets, Ernst Nchindo five (5) bullets, Tommy Nchindo five (5) bullets and Sinvula Munyeme five (5) bullets. From the seven (7) BDF soldiers that left the BDF camp in two boats, four (4) fired the shots that killed the Namibians.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s decision to apply for the positions of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and their deputies (DSRSG), has left the government confused over whether to lend her support or not, WeekendPost has established.
Moitoi’s application follows the Secretary-General’s launch of the third edition of the Global Call for Heads and Deputy Heads of United Nations Field Missions, which aims to expand the pool of candidates for the positions of SRSG) and their deputies to advance gender parity and geographical diversity at the most senior leadership level in the field. These mission leadership positions are graded at the Under-Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General levels.