The ministry of environment and tourism has made a startling revelation that from 2018 to 2022, Botswana lost 138 rhinos to poaching. It has further indicated that, In 2018 seven rhinos were poached while in 2019, thirty were lost, followed by 62 in 2020. In 2021 the number dropped to 33 following an increased anti-poaching interventions while only six rhinos were poached during the year 2022.
The minister was responding to a question in parliament in which member of parliament for Serowe South Leepetswe Lesedi had asked the minister to explain what caused the rhino poaching to spiral out of control in the last four years, to avail the number of rhinos that have been poached and those that died from natural causes since April 2018. The response was given by assistant minister of local government, Mabuse Pule on behalf of minister Philda Kereng.
Lesedi has also wanted to know why some rhinos were allegedly moved to Ghanzi, how many were moved and how many died due to mishandling during the relocation. Lesedi also asked the minister to state how many rhinos were recently killed at Khama Rhino Sanctuary and how poachers managed to access to the Sanctuary as it is highly protected area.
In response the minister revealed that Botswana experienced a significant increase in incidences of rhino poaching in 2020 and they were attributed to a number of factors including an increased demand for rhino horn in the international market hence poachers looked for places where rhinos were around. He added that the displacement of international criminals syndicates from other Southern African states also lead to the increase.
“On account of these trends it is evident that the interventions being implemented are bearing fruit therefore a total of 138 rhinos were lost to poachers from 2018 up to 2022,” Pule revealed.
He noted that a total of 76 rhinos died due to natural causes, out of which five were lost in 2018, 18 in 2019, 22 in 2020, 15 in 2021 and 16 in 2022. The minister indicated that most of these mortalities are from old age diseases and injuries sustained during rhino fights mostly amongst males fighting for breeding territories.
He confirmed that rhinos were trans located from the Okavango delta into safer locations and requested parliament to permit her not to divulge information to where these rhinos were trans located as that would only increase the very risk of poaching which they are trying to address. Similarly, to avoid raising the risk profile of the trans located rhinos, the minister requested the parliament to permit here not to divulge the number of moved animals.
“During the relocation exercise we lost two rhinos due to injuries sustained during their capture, it is important though to set record straight that the mortality were not due to mishandling as the Department of Wildlife and National Parks(DWNP) have professionals who have carried out this exercise many times without problem,” he said.
The minister also stated that two rhinos were poached in Khama Rhino Sanctuary during the period of October to November 2022 with investigations into the matter still on-going.
Accordingly, the ministry in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies have put in place many interventions that are geared towards curving the incidents of poaching and the current trend of very low numbers poached is a demonstration of positive results of the actions.