Botswana ‘Poaching spree’ rattles Kenyan conservationists

A Jumbo feeding at Chobe National Park, PHOTO ;file

Mombasa, KENYA: Wildlife conservationists in Kenya have been rattled by reports stating that not less than 90 elephants in Botswana have been killed by poachers over the past few months.

The reports were first raised by Elephants Without borders – EWB, a wildlife and natural resources conservation organization that is currently conducting an ariel survey of elephants at the Okavango Delta where most of the dead elephants were allegedly spotted with their tusks and in some cases trunks missing.

Despite the Botswana government rubbishing the reports conservations all over the world have expressed concerns  as  Botswana is  considered the remaining population of endangered African elephants.

Speaking to Baraka FM Patricia Awori the director of Pan African Wildlife  said it was worrying to report a case of suspected poaching in a country considered a model in wildlife conservation.

Botswana government denies poaching spree took place

“It attracts a universal reaction to know that the elephant killing has happened in a sanctuary with largest population in Africa where they have never been cases of poaching before,” Awori said.

While rubbishing the claims the Botswana government called out the conservationists who had blown the whistle  saying they were ‘Giving a false impression that they love Botswana wildlife more than the people’.

However Amboseli based  organization the Elephant trust said that they had no reason to doubt the claims made by Elephants without Borders.

“We at ATE are devastated to hear about the elephant poaching in Botswana, which has long been a refuge for elephants. They have lived in safety for decades and now their lives are being shattered. We support the work of Michael Chase and Elephants Without Borders,” tweeted Elephant Trust.

The reports come a few months after US president Donald Trump lifted  a ban on importing elephant trophies  hunted from Botswana, Namibia , Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and  South Africa sparking outrage from the former Botswana President Seretse Ian Khama who accused trump of encouraging poaching by allowing import of trophies from a country where trophy hunting is illegal in the first place.

Wildlife protection in Botswana is a function of the country’s army,the Botswana Defense Forces which has a shoot to kill order for poachers.

However, President Mokgweetsi Masisi who took office in April 2018 ordered the Wildlife protection unit of the army to be disarmed .

Additional reporting by Janet Murikira