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Botswana is working towards winning back tourists’ confidence | Coastweek

NXAI PAN NATIONAL PARK Botswana (Xinhua) -- Elephants bath [left] in a water hole in Nxai Pan National Park, central Botswana. Lone female elephant grazing [right] in the Okavango Delta. Botswana has the largest elephant population in the world. XINHUA PHOTO - LYU TIANRAN / WIKIPEDIA PHOTO - JOACHIM HUBER


Botswana working towards winning back tourists’
travel confidence after 'false' poaching report

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Botswana will maintain and continue fighting to bring back confidence of both local and international tourists following a false poaching article by one of the western media houses, Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO) said on Tuesday.

Keitumetse Setlang, the BTO communications manager said the negative story alleging that poachers are on a rampage in the northern part of the country has got the potential of scaring away tourists from visiting Botswana.

Elephant Without Borders (EWB) director Mike Chase recently told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that at least 90 elephants were killed in northern Botswana solely for their tusks.

Setlang said BTO will always be concerned about any report on poaching because it may portray the southern African country in a bad light.

With tourism, Setlang said Botswana aspires to successfully position itself well in the global tourism market thereby instilling confidence in its destinations and products which is mainly the wildlife in northern Botswana.

Though the contribution of travel and tourism to the southern country’s gross domestic product (GDP) fluctuated substantially in recent years, it tended to increase through 1998 - 2017 period ending at 11.5 percent in 2017.


Botswana intensifies fight against white rhino poaching

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Law enforcement agencies are intensifying patrols after a dead white rhino was discovered in the lower reaches of the Okavango Delta in Botswana on August 18.

This marked the second rhino that was killed at the delta since last year.

The carcass was discovered during a routine joint anti-poaching patrol by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), Botswana Defense Force as well as non-governmental organizations.

DWNP coordinator Timothy Blackbeard said on Tuesday that the horns of the animal were ‘cruelly’ removed and taken away by the perpetrators.

Blackbeard said that they suspect the incident was an opportunistic crime rather than organized and had engaged other investigation agencies from government departments such as Botswana Police and Intelligence Services to look into the case.

Blackbeard said poaching of rhinos, however, is not as common in Botswana as it is in the neighboring countries such as Namibia.

Botswana records 30 poaching incidents in two months

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks has recorded 30 incidents of poaching in Ngamiland District, some 700 km away from Gaborone, capital of Botswana, in the past two months.

DWNP director Otisitswe Tiroyamodimo said Thursday that this year witnessed an increase in cases of poaching as compared to last year.

Poaching had increased extensively in the Okavango region and that the species poached included elephants, he said.

Tiroyamodimo said most of the incidents involved foreigners, while a few involved locals.

Efforts are being made to address the situation through intensified patrols by law enforcement agencies and other departments, the director said.

His colleagues are working closely with their counterparts in countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe in tracking poachers, Tiroyamodimo said.

Botswana deny security agency involved in ivory trade

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Botswana has denied media reports that the country’s spy agency is involved in illegal ivory trade.

The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism on Friday denied reports that Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) has been caught with a secret ivory stash.

"The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has never carried out a sting operation on a DISS Camp. As such it is false and misleading that Department of Wildlife and National Parks Anti-poaching Unit uncovered a secret stash of elephant tusks," said Thato Raphaka, permanent secretary in the ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism.

Raphaka said the Department of Wildlife and National Parks is aware of all ivory stored in temporary locations by security forces within Botswana and has arrangement to regularly collect such material from time to time.

"It may be further noted that security forces are involved in Anti-Poaching operations and regular patrols in line with their mandate," Raphaka said.

Ministry said the reports are an attempt to give an impression that the DISS has been involved in Ivory smuggling.

Botswana has received international accolades for its anti-poaching efforts with its trademark, shoot to kill policy on poachers.

Community leaders want Botswana to lift hunting ban

GABORONE Botswana (Xinhua) -- Community leaders in the central district on Tuesday urged the Government of Botswana to lift the elephant hunting ban.

The Ministry of Environment Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism on Tuesday held a consultation workshop on the Botswana National Elephant Action Plan to identify actions to be taken to protect and manage elephants and develop a national plan which will drive effective implementation, in Phikwe, some 300 km from Gaborone, capital of Botswana.

During the workshop, the authorities claimed the population of elephants have increased so much that they now roam outside their designated areas like game reserves and national parks, rendering government farming programs useless as they destroy crops and property.

They said it has been over three years since farmers in the central district area have abandoned farming as a result of destruction by elephants.

Botswana is home to about 200, 000 herds of elephants.

Felix Monggae, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, informed the community leaders that elephant population in the country has grown over years and is the largest population on the African continent with most of them outside national parks and game reserves.

One community leader urged the government to sell the jumbos so that proceeds will be channeled towards developing the country because their destruction apparently is excessive and defeats other government agricultural initiatives.

Others suggested that the hunting ban be lifted as a matter of urgency and money channeled to the community trusts.

They also learnt that since hunting ban was introduced, poaching of elephants has increased annually and that 54 cases were brought before courts of law last year.

Sniffer dogs inspire Botswana wildlife rangers’ quest to end poaching

by Christine Lagat ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tebogo Mang’ombe has a messianic zeal to protect thousands of elephants that roam in the vast jungles of her native country Botswana from human predators.

The young female wildlife ranger had to overcome serious hurdles to join a profession that was largely shunned by members of her gender due to its myriad risks.

Mang’ombe was among four female rangers from Botswana who benefited from an intensive course sponsored by conservation lobbies to enhance their skills in handling sniffer dogs that have become a powerful weapon in the fight against wildlife crimes in Africa.

The ten-week course on handling canines that was sponsored by Nairobi-based conservation lobby, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), was carried out in Arusha, Tanzania.

Speaking to Xinhua on Saturday during the graduation ceremony for Botswana rangers who participated in the course, Mang’ombe vowed to utilize skills gained in handling sniffer dogs to help her native country deal with the threat of elephant poaching.

"The training on handling detection canines was enriching and I hope to apply the expertise gained after the course to fight poaching in my country more effectively," Mang’ombe said.

Fifteen Botswana wildlife rangers took part in the course under the tutelage of experts from Arusha-based Canine Specialist Services International.

The course was held against a backdrop of enthusiasm by African wildlife authorities to invest in sniffer dogs as a means to boost action on illegal trafficking of elephant tusks and rhino horns.

Mang’ombe noted that her country remained vulnerable to elephant poaching hence the need to employ new and more effective tactics to contain this menace.

"Though the levels of poaching in Botswana are relatively low, we cannot afford to take chances and will therefore go back home with the goal of ending this organized crime," said Mang’ombe.

Botswana is the fifth country in Africa to benefit from AWF sponsored training of wildlife rangers to boost their expertise in handling sniffer dogs at ports of entry to strengthen the war against trafficking.

Other African countries whose wildlife rangers have participated in the training include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.

These countries have the highest population of elephants in the continent but are as well grappling with high levels of poaching.

Philip Muruthi, Vice President of Species Conservation at AWF, hailed capacity development for Botswana wildlife rangers, saying it will boost response to illegal trafficking of ivory in the southern African nation.

"We hope Botswana will be able to seal all loopholes exploited by criminals involved in trafficking of ivory once the detection canines are deployed at border posts," said Muruthi.

He disclosed that ten sniffer dogs highly trained on detecting contraband goods like ivory will soon be deployed to Botswana.

Botswana wildlife rangers felt emboldened to join the fight against elephant poaching in their home country upon completing the grueling canines handling course held in northern Tanzania.

Dickson Samunzala, a veteran law enforcement agent, said mastering the art of handling ferocious sniffer dogs was a monumental stride in his career.

"The most exciting part of our training was learning how to bond with the canines and taking care of them. We felt they are an indispensable partner in the fight against poaching," Samunzala said.

The senior ranger in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Botswana vowed to utilize skills gained in the course to help his country deal with illegal trafficking of elephant tusks and rhino horns.

"Our country has declared zero tolerance to poaching and will not be transit route for ivory once we deploy sniffer dogs in every border crossing," said Samunzala.

Botswana’s new generation of wildlife rangers are keen on acquiring skills in handling sniffer dogs that are currently reshaping the war against poaching in Africa.

Tshepo Baitumetse Molephe, a young female ranger, said the dogs’ handling training course opened her eyes to new frontiers in wildlife management.

"I’m sure there will be a major transformation in wildlife protection in our country once we go back home to apply the skills we learnt on handling sniffer dogs," said Molephe.

Her sentiments were echoed by Ishmael Monwametsi, a commander in Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, who said that canines are an effective and cheaper means of fighting organized crime like poaching.

Botswana wildlife rangers trained on handling sniffer dogs to detect ivory

ARUSHA Tanzania (Xinhua) -- The war against elephant poaching in Botswana got a boost on Saturday when wildlife rangers from the southern African country graduated from a ten-week intensive course on handling canines that are used to detect ivory at ports of entry.

Fifteen rangers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks participated in the course to strengthen their skills in handling sniffer dogs that are an integral part of anti-poaching war.

The course was sponsored by Nairobi based conservation lobby, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and implemented by Canine Specialists Services International based in Arusha, Tanzania.

"Wildlife rangers who are skilled in handling sniffer dogs will help redefine the battle against elephant poaching in Botswana and the larger Southern African region," said Philip Muruthi, Vice President in charge of species conservation at AWF.

He revealed that ten canines will soon be deployed to Botswana to boost detection of ivory trafficked illegally through the country’s borders.

Botswana is the fifth African country after Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique to benefit from skills upgrade for wildlife rangers to enable them handle sniffer dogs effectively.

Muruthi noted that detection canines have revolutionized the war against poaching in these countries that have the highest population of elephants in the continent.

"The deployment of sniffer dogs at ports of entry has unleashed positive results in countries affected by poaching as evidenced by regular arrest of criminals involved in ivory trafficking," said Muthuri.

Botswana has rolled out a raft of initiatives to enhance protection of its elephants’ population which is the highest in Africa.

Imani Pointer Stephen, the Deputy Commander, Anti-poaching unit at the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Botswana said that enactment of new legislation coupled with political goodwill has strengthened the protection of iconic land mammals in Botswana.

"We are determined to end poaching and have focused on regional cooperation, training of rangers and law enforcement to contain this crime," Pointer Stephen said.


Nearly 90 elephants have been killed for ivory in Botswana, according to a wildlife charity

Botswana rebuts charity’s accusation by inviting officials to see carcasses for themselves



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