The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has raised concerns about escalating cases of pangolin (Kgaga) trafficking in Ngamiland.
Though the department withheld statistics on pangolin trafficking, it has however revealed that the incidents are aided by regional truck drivers who simply put the small animal in sacks and smuggle them across borders.
“Some foreigners smuggle pangolins from Botswana with the help of locals. This is wrong, as it negatively affects the whole country,” DWNP Ngamiland regional director Modiri Mogopa told this publication.
He said there are some unsubstantiated claims that some of the animal’s body parts have medicinal value, which are guided by traditional beliefs without any scientific basis hence the increasing criminal act.
Botswana has one species of pangolin, the ground pangolin, known as Kgaga in Setswana. Research has shown that throughout Africa and Asia pangolins are threatened by illegal hunting for meat and their scales. They are said to be the most trafficked mammal in the world.
The regional director noted that the DWNP has not yet done a population count to ascertain numbers of the species in the country, but indicated that they have two ongoing surveys into the ecology of the species. The research he said will enhance the understanding of pangolins in Botswana.
Mogopa stressed the need to work together in order to stop the illegal trafficking and killing of pangolins, emphasizing that it is crucial to protect the last remaining population. He revealed that the department has an annual pangolin operation initiated to control its trafficking adding that they have also deployed LEA K9 units at ports of entry and exit as well as disease control gates to rectify the situation.
In addition, Mogopa said they have partnered with various stakeholders to develop wildlife crime awareness messages around the Ngamiland area with the support of US Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Namibia.