Millennium Post

Poaching persists

Indeed, notwithstanding all positive efforts to protect wildlife the world over, poaching persists. Elephants have been transported from one region to another, from one national reserve to another but eventually, the killers get wind of the movement and change their target accordingly. Occasionally, the poachers get a little too adventurous and find themselves the targets of carnivores. But they persist in their efforts. That they succeed leads to the suspicion that informants have been doing their job. Botswana, long considered a safe haven for elephants in Africa, has "a significant elephant-poaching problem," a conservationist group that carried out an aerial wildlife survey in the country said. Elephants Without Borders said it witnessed a spike in the number of elephant carcasses found in northern Botswana which show "obvious signs" of poaching, according to a new report. The survey report has not been officially released by Elephants Without Borders. But Mike Chase, the director and founder of the organisation said halfway through the survey in September that the level of poaching was "unprecedented" after nearly 90 elephant carcasses were found. The government of Botswana in a statement disputed Chase's findings saying it had "concerns over the blending of several different techniques" in the writing and analysis of the report. Thato Raphaka, permanent secretary of the country's Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, said that the report by Elephants Without Borders actually showed the elephant population in Botswana had remained stable since 2014, the last time a similar survey was conducted. Raphaka said the report verified only a portion of dead elephants observed during the aerial survey. He added: "The authors report that only 33 out of a total 128 suspected poaching events were actually confirmed by ground verification." The government, however, said it was "under no illusion that poaching remains a threat" to its elephant population, which is the largest in Africa. Botswana is home to an estimated 130,000 elephants and accounts for about a third of the total African population. It is an obvious target for poachers and the country has put measures in place to deter poaching, including a hunting ban imposed by former President Ian Khama in 2014. But the country is expected to lift the ban and allow the canning of elephant meat as pet food, after a recommendation from Cabinet ministers. "I can promise you and the nation that we will consider it. A white paper will follow and it will be shared with the public," President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who took office last year, announced last week after receiving a report from the committee tasked with evaluating the ban. Before taking the final step, the government ought to launch a new investigation.

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