Recent Elephant Poaching in Botswana

cmnhunt

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-45396394


Carcases of nearly 90 elephants have been found near a famous wildlife sanctuary in Botswana, conservationists say.

Elephants Without Borders, which is conducting an aerial survey, said the scale of poaching deaths is the largest seen in Africa.

The spike coincides with Botswana's anti-poaching unit being disarmed.

Botswana has the world's largest elephant population, but poachers have been breaching its border.

Some readers may find the image below distressing

The scientist carrying out the extensive wildlife survey said many of the 87 dead elephants were killed for their tusks just weeks ago - and that five white rhinos have been poached in three months.

"I'm shocked, I'm completely astounded. The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I've seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date," said Dr Mike Chase from Elephants Without Borders.



Sad to see but I doubt it will ever end.
 

Shootist43

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I wonder why the Anti Poaching Unit was disarmed? It is obvious that the hewn cry of "Please don't poach any more elephants" falls on exceedingly deaf ears.
 

tigris115

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Why the hell would you disarm an anti poaching unit
 

Adrian

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Why the hell would you disarm an anti poaching unit
Exactly this. It beggars belief that any government or organisation has somehow sat down and decided this was a good move and the correct thing to do.

Unbelievably naive and stupid.

I hope there is an explanation of this forthcoming.

I wonder if the ire directed at hunters will also now be directed at those responsible for disarming the anti poaching unit which it would appear is directly responsible for the deaths of those elephants.

You also have to ask the question if the disarming was deliberate and timed because the decision maker/makers in the Botswana corridors of power would stand to profit from the sale of ivory poached in relative safety.........?

It may be an awkward question but the coincidences are pertinent given the circumstances.
 

IdaRam

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It's all so simple.

Put a bounty on poachers. That will bring out just the sort needed to get the job done.
Just like their next door neighbor. There are quite a few things Bots could learn from Zim.
 

CAustin

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I wonder why the Anti Poaching Unit was disarmed? It is obvious that the hewn cry of "Please don't poach any more elephants" falls on exceedingly deaf ears.

Exactly
 

IdaRam

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flatwater bill

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Perhaps Botswana can schedule some meetings and ask for more international aid. That will probably solve the poaching problem. Or maybe pass another law against poaching elephant. That will probably do it...................................FWB
 

NamStay

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Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/09/04/africa/botswana-elephant-poaching-intl/index.html

Dozens of elephant carcasses found in Botswana, revealing 'unprecedented' levels of poaching

Almost 90 elephant carcasses have been found during a survey in northern Botswana, revealing "unprecedented" levels of poaching in the country, the conservation group carrying out the study has said.

Just nine carcasses were discovered in total during the last audit of the region in 2014, and Elephants Without Borders is expecting this year's number to rise further because the organization is only halfway through the study, which began on July 5 and is largely funded by Botswana's Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
"While we had elephant poaching in the country before this year, it certainly wasn't of the magnitude that we're seeing now. It's completely unprecedented," Mike Chase, director and founder of Elephants Without Borders, told CNN.

"We were always warned that the poaching that has happened in East Africa and parts of northern Mozambique may spread south. What I'm astounded by is the scale and the speed at which it has happened."
Thato Raphaka, Botswana permanent secretary of land management, water and sanitation services, said that 90 elephants were never killed in one incident, and that a recent survey conducted by Elephants Without Borders found 53 carcasses that had already been reported to the government.
Raphaka, in a statement, said the majority of the 53 elephants died of natural causes "and retaliatory killings as a result of human and wildlife conflicts."
Elephants Without Borders said it never claimed the killings were the result of one incident.
Botswana is home to the largest population of elephants in Africa -- an estimated 130,000 -- and has long been seen as a haven for the animals, which have been heavily poached in nearby Angola and Zambia.
That is now changing, according to Chase. While cases of ivory poaching were previously reported only along the country's international borders, this latest survey shows that poaching has moved into the Okavango Delta, a prime tourist destination deep inside northern Botswana, suggesting that Botswana citizens are becoming more involved in poaching activities.

Poachers 'have followed' elephants to Botswana


Chase attributes the changes to two factors: heavy poaching in Angola and Zambia that has left local populations on the verge of extinction, and the disarming of Botswana's anti-poaching unit (APU) in May.
Before European colonization, scientists believe that Africa may have held as many as 20 million elephants; by 1979 only 1.3 million remained. The first Great Elephant Census, a pan-African survey of the continent's savanna elephants in 2016, revealed that the situation had gotten far worse.
Between 2007 and 2014, numbers plummeted by at least 30%, or 144,000 elephants, the census found.

The Great Elephant Census, first conducted in 2016, revealed that the number of elephants across Africa was falling rapidly.
In Botswana, elephants were long thought to be safe. Members of an armed anti-poaching unit patrolled the elephants' habitats, while Botswana's military was mobilized throughout the border region, tasked with preventing poaching.
In May this year, the anti-poaching unit was disarmed as part of a broader action in which military weapons and equipment were withdrawn from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), according to a government statement.
Unarmed patrolmen cannot be expected "to patrol and possibly have contact with armed poachers," Chase said, adding that he had not seen any members of the APU in the bush during the first two months of the survey.
Asked by CNN on Tuesday about the disarming of the APU and the rise in elephant poaching in Botswana, Otisitswe Tiroyamodimo, director of the DWNP, declined to comment.
But Raphaka said the withdrawal of weapons has not created a "vacuum in anti-poaching operations, as the anti-poaching unit in DWNP continues to play a pivotal role in combating wildlife crime through other strategic interventions."
When asked to respond to the governments response on the matter, Chase said; "100% I stand by what I said, the evidence is irrefutable."
A Department of Wildlife and National Parks representative was present during the current census count.
Heavy poaching in Angola is also contributing to the current problems in Botswana, according to EWB.
"Those elephants that weren't killed are moving back to the safety of Botswana, and the poachers have followed them," Chase said.

Demand for ivory despite bans

In January this year, China enacted a ban on the sale of ivory products. It followed a near-total embargo by the United States in 2016, and the UK is currently considering introducing "one of the world's toughest" bans on ivory sales in a bid to protect elephants. The European Union has yet to enact an ivory ban.
But demand remains for the luxury product and Chase warned against complacency.
The initial results of EWB's survey suggest poachers are primarily targeting the largest, oldest bulls in the population, known as great tuskers.
The ivory is hacked away by a sharp axe and the carcasses covered with bushes in an attempt to conceal the kill, according to Chase. Numbers of great tuskers across Africa have dwindled to about 50, according to various estimates by conservationists.
It is also clear that poachers are moving into increasingly remote areas areas to hunt elephants. Six carcasses were discovered Monday during an aerial patrol in one of the region's least accessible areas, Chase said.

Threat to tourism

Botswana's wildlife attracts large numbers of visitors, and tourism is the country's second-largest earner.
The surge in poaching potentially threatens not only a major source of Botswana's income, but also its reputation as a conservation leader on the continent.
The rising elephant deaths and the poaching of six rhinos in Botswana this year suggests that the killings may be the work of organized syndicates.



The Botswana government has issued a statement

40771187_1006806829498837_651094188552617984_n.jpg
40766715_1006806819498838_8117519555586162688_o.jpg
 

flatwater bill

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Interesting post............thanks for the update..................FWB
 

BRICKBURN

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EWB fund raising at it's best.

"Retaliatory Killings" - You can expect a lot of those.
 

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I’m finding it hard to believe that this kind of poaching is not controlled or at least sanctioned by the government.
When you have a large population of a species under threat, you should provide them with more protection, not less protection.
Disarming the APU was stupid and and invitation to poachers for an easy target.

Oddly enough, you don’t hear much about the ele population in Zambia that is stable and growing overall.
If you look into these areas where the population is stable and growing, there are huge sums of money spent on anti poaching and control.
 

tigris115

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If their treatment of the San people is anything to go by, the Botswanan government is pretty sketchy so facilitating poaching as long as they get some cheddar ain't out of the question
 

NamStay

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Source: http://www.weekendpost.co.bw/wp-news-details.php?nid=5575


Khama punches holes in anti-poaching policy


Former President Lt. Ian Khama who is an Ambassador of Tourism and a Distinguished Fellow of Conservation International says the disarming of Department of Wildlife and National Parks in May this year, led to a ‘Bulela Ditswe’ of elephants resulting in 87 allegedly being killed in one incident recently.



Government had taken a decision to withdraw military weapons and equipment from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in May this year. This was only a month after Khama handed over a baton to his successor President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Speaking in an interview with WeekendPost on Thursday, Khama said it was unfortunate that the anti-poaching units were disarmed.


“I do not really know the reason why the wildlife officials were disarmed. But it was unfortunate. It is possible that the decision could be partly responsible for the increase in poaching,” said Khama. The former President said that when it was communicated that the anti-poaching units have been disarmed, it gave poachers an impression that everyone who is involved in anti-poaching was being disarmed.


“And then people thought, ehe, ‘Bulela Ditswe’ mo Botswana, (there is poaching spree in Botswana) we can go and try our luck. We saw an increase in poaching of wild animals including rhinos after that announcement was made.” The anti-poaching units are made of Botswana Defence Force (BDF), Botswana Police Services and Wildlife and National Parks officials, with the biggest number coming from BDF.


THE KHAMAS ARE NOT DE-CAMPAIGNING BOTSWANA TOURISM


Former President Khama dismissed allegations that his family especially his young brother, Tshekedi Khama who happens to be the Minister of Environment, National Resources Conservation and Tourism, could be de-campaigning Botswana tourism because of the recent fallout with the Masisi administration.


He said, “There is no de-campaigning by me or any member of my family. I have worked for this country for many years. I have had the privilege of working for it at the highest level, so they would be nothing I would want to do to undo the work I have tried to do to promote this country.” “The tourism Ambassador role is to campaign for Botswana, and that’s what I am doing. Even in my role as a Conservation International Distinguished Fellow we are concerned about the spike in elephant poaching in Botswana,” he said.


Khama said a low number of poaching was recorded during his administration. According to the former President, a total of 81 elephants were poached in 12 months last year, with one rhino in 10 years as compared to 87 elephants and five rhinos in one incident according to his information.


Trying to make sense of the alleged poaching, Khama said the other possible reason could be that there is just wholesale poaching on the other side of borders and elephants are literally running out to other countries. Further to that, Khama said poachers’ guns are now probably facing Botswana. He warned that if not careful, this can certainly affect the population of elephants which will then affect the tourism industry as a whole.


OUR GOOD REPUTATION IS BEING RUINED


The Tourism Ambassador decried that the recent rise in poaching cases will certainly damage the good reputation of Botswana tourism in terms of the country’s management of poaching, “Because we always had a very good reputation internationally because of how we have been able to protect these resources, wildlife in general and our environment.”


“We have a good reputation as Botswana. We stand out in the continent. And this will cause us harm if we are seen to be relaxing in any way or because we are not doing well as we have been up to now. We have to revisit the methods we are using to counter poaching,” he said.


ELEPHANTS WITHOUT BORDERS REPORT EXAMINED BY MINISTRY

The former president however, said the numbers that were reported by Dr Mike Chase of Elephants without Borders might change. He said the government has sent its delegation to go meet with him and examine his numbers. “A team has been sent by the ministry to go meet the gentleman who reported the figure to establish where these elephants are and the numbers and cause of death. Sometimes when you fly you just see the carcasses, and it could be natural death or poaching.


Of course he is a very reputable gentleman, but I do not know whether he examined all the 87 carcasses to establish the cause of death,” Khama noted. “So, these carcasses, we also need to establish if some of them are from last year or these are recent. But I think the department what they know so far is that this year so far we have lost 63 elephants to poachers.”

HIS EXPERIENCE IN COMBATING POACHING


“From my experience, there is always a pattern, a trend, and areas poachers tend to target. Once we get familiar with those, then we can know how to counter with old strategies. When they cross the border, they kill animals like hippo on the other side, cut its feet at the bottom and make a pad that the elephants walk on, cut it and fashion it into a shoe and walk on that. So when you are patrolling you don’t see a human foot print, you just see what looks like an elephant foot print.

But as an experienced anti-poaching official you would know that an elephant is so heavy, so the print would be deeper than if it’s a human being. A professional experienced tracker would see it’s not the track of an elephant. They also do things like walking backwards, so when you see prints you would think they have gone another way. “


WHERE DO TOURISTS PAY PACKAGE BILLS?


Asked where the tourists pay their package bills, the Tourism Ambassador hesitated in answering the question refereeing this publication to BTO before he could say, “Some may be paying here, but some may be paying through agency.” This publication can however reliably confirm that payments are made overseas before tourists come here. The accommodations accounts are not in Botswana, but in foreign countries.


Tshekedi declined to comment on the issue saying there has been an instruction that a press conference will be held sometime next week to address all the issues around the poaching saga. I know Chase, but I haven’t seen him for a long time, the whole of this year. But I know about the work that he does.
 

spike.t

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With the massive overpopulation of elephants in Botswana the amount poached is hardly going to affect the numbers the photo tourists will see....so somehow don't think it will be a problem for tourism......maybe he should be more concerned with his countrymen who now don't have jobs and their communities have lost the money and meat from the hunting operations that now don't exist . ...so clever.....
 

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