Wildlife Poaching Is A Threat To Botswana’s Economy And National Security


Poaching of trophy animals remains one a of the greatest challenges to wildlife conservation in northern Botswana. Botswana is presently home to roughly a third of Africa’s elephants. However, there has been an increase in elephant poaching despite the newly introduced government anti-poaching strategy of “shoot to kill”.

Elephant poaching is carried out using firearms of which the .375 calibre firearm and its ammunition are popular. Elephant poaching occurs largely during the winter seasons and a significant number of citizens are involved. In 2017/18, 62 elephants were killed compared to 42 in 2016/17.  Similarly, there has been an increase in trafficking of elephant tusks in that 109 tusks were trafficked in 2017/2018 compared to 48 in 2016/2017.

In addition to elephant poaching, rhino poaching has increased since 2017 in the Okavango Delta. That is, over 138 rhinos were slaughtered between 2018 and 2022, a surged statistic in comparison to the reports of two rhinos poached in the preceding five years from 2012-2017.

This shows that rhino killings rose to seven in 2018, before spiking to 30 the following year. In 2020 the killings rose again to 62 but halved to 33 in 2021 before dropping to six last year. The increase in rhino poaching is a result of the increased demand for the endangered species’ horn by some east Asians who believe it has medicinal properties. The dehorning operation appears to have been no deterrent at preventing additional poaching. After the poaching continued largely unabated, the government took the drastic steps of evacuating all remaining black rhinos in the Delta and dehorning the white rhinos.

Batswana citizens are increasingly becoming more involved in poaching activities while foreign nationals are reported to be the main culprits. Many of the poachers targeting Botswana’s rhinos are from neighbouring countries such as Zambia.

For example, it is documented that in the past two decades, 30 Namibians and at least 22 Zimbabweans have been killed in Botswana anti-poaching operations. The Government of Botswana in 2013 announced that it had devised and implemented a controversial ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, targeting suspected poachers.

It is critical to realise that poaching continues to rise, despite the implementation of fines and prison terms or the shoot to kill policy. For instance, for killing an elephant one shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of P50 000 and to imprisonment for 10 years while killing a rhinoceros one shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of P100 000 and to imprisonment of 15 years.

Moreover, any person who fails to comply with the section on possession of ivory or elephant tusks shall be liable to a fine of P50 000 and to imprisonment of 10 years. Anti-poaching operations have also increased border tensions between Botswana and Namibia. This has in the process increased tensions with citizens of Namibia living along the border claiming that the BDF violates Namibia’s sovereignty.

Illegal poaching in Africa poses serious threats to biodiversity, including the possible extinction of species. That is poaching poses a serious threat to biodiversity, socio-economic conditions and national security of Botswana. In addition, Botswana relies on tourism as the second largest economic sector and generator of revenue. In this regard, increases in poaching is a threat to Botswana. Wildlife conservation therefore remains an approach that requires participation by Botswana citizens and partnership and collaboration between Botswana and its neighbouring countries.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:



More like this

GU, Ostriches Clash In Orange FA Cup Finals

The Orange FA Cup finals set for June 17th...

‘Botswana Open For Partnership In Hosting AFCON’

AFCON 2027 bid committee head of secretariat Geofrey Gare...

Springbok FC Are Champions Of The Maun Stream

The Gweta based Springbok FC took dominance of the...

Mummy’s Angels, A Postnatal Supporting Trust Launched

Mummy’s Angels (MA), a charitable trust that provides postnatal...
Verified by MonsterInsights