What is the truth about Rhino poaching?

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks(DWNP) and the Former President, Seretse Khama Ian Khama are finding themselves entertaining the social media spectators and commentators as they are throwing jabs at each other with regards to rhino poaching.

It all started yesterday when Khama made a Facebook post claiming that rhinos are in great danger from poachers during this time of Corona which came about with lockdowns and curfews. He said this indicating that the government is failing to protect these endangered species.

“This is what failure looks like. No lockdown or curfew for poachers apparently. In 18 months about 120 rhinos with and without horns have been slaughtered. After corona there will be none left for tourists to come and see.” Khama charged.

In their response through a press release, DWNP condemned Khama’s claims saying that those allergations have a potential of tarnishing the country’s image especially that tourism “is the second highest foreign revenue earner for the country.” The Department view Khama’s assertions as economic sabotage.

Although DWNP says it is disappointed by Khama’s claims it says it cannot discuss some of the details surrounding the issue for security reasons as that will further expose it’s rangers to danger. They however assured the public that they as a Department are collaborating with other stakeholders from other security organs and are working “tirelessly to protect the country’s natural resources, mostly in very tough and inhabitable terrains”

According to the Director of DWNP- Dr. Kabelo Senyatso, lockdown and curfew has had a positive impact on the anti-poaching operations, “issues of interest to the law enforcement agencies, have decreased by over 70% when one compares the 12-months pre-COVID 19 (March 2019 to February 2020) with the 12-month COVID 19 period (March 2020 to February 2021). Consequently, DWNP advises that the claims in the above-cited post are devoid of any truth, and are misleading, malicious, and grossly irresponsible.”

Meanwhile, Bhejane Trust- a Zimbabwean rhino conservation organization, has yesterday posted on Facebook about an incident where twelve (12) rhinos were massacred by poachers at Okavango Delta in Botswana.

“More bad news on the rhino situation in Botswana. There have been 12 rhino poached in the last two weeks in the Okavango Delta area, including a family – male, female and calf – in one hit. Urgent action is required by the Botswana authorities, and they should bring in expert advice and assistance immediately, if any rhino are to survive.”

In his retaliation after a rebuttal by DWNP, Khama posted yet again on Facebook saying that the failure to protect rhinos and curb poaching is a consequence of lack of leadership.

“We have the ability and the means to tackle poaching without outside help. What is lacking is the will and the leadership.” he proclaimed.

What is left not really addressed is if it is indeed true that indeed one hundred and twenty (120) rhinos got killed in a space of eighteen (18) months as Khama claims. The rebuttal by DWNP only tells us of percentages, could it be that those percentages translate to 120 poached rhinos Khama is talking about?

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