Tourist firms in Botswana said to be aiding poachers

Tourist firms in Botswana are said to be abetting poachers in the nation.

The finding has raised concerns as an industry that should have encouraged wildlife is expected to lead to the end of many species of plants and animals unique to Botswana.

A spokesperson for the Botswana Defence Force said that the unit uses force only in self-defence and that it has been arresting suspected poachers who are then sent to jail. However, conservationists feel that law enforcement agencies are not having the necessary impact needed to curb poaching in the nation. Unlike nations such as South Africa, poaching is afforded much leniency that could lead to the decline and ultimate extinction of plants and animals.

As law enforcing agencies are combating poachers who kill for both commercial reasons as well as to appease hunger, Botswana is yet to prosecute a commercial poacher. On the other hand, many Botswana citizens who hunt for food are reportedly routinely jailed and released. Analysts feel that Botswana’s prosecution record is poor despite several law enforcement agencies being involved in anti-poaching operations. In spite of the activities of intelligence units of the Department of Wildlife, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security and BDF units, rhino poaching is common and authorities seem to be powerless in bringing to book organised commercial poaching syndicates.

There are allegations that commercial poaching in the Chobe National Park is mainly sponsored by big names in the tourism industry. It is believed that several tourist facilities take pride in serving game meat obtained through poaching. Some tourist locations have reportedly gone a step further and have kept exotic animals in farms to be killed when the need arises. These animals are sourced from the forests.

There are also allegations that tourism promoters are offering counter intelligence to commercial poachers to help them operate better in the forests. Poachers are also said to have ample insider information, which helps them immensely to counter the government’s conservation efforts.