See link for photo.
There is no easy answer to this dilemma.
(1) while our ecosystems rely, in part, on the survival of wildlife species, is it worth the risk for villagers caught in the crossfire as anti-poaching unit aims to keep parks clear of poachers?
(2) conversely, while there is an (unpleasant) argument in favour of trophy hunting (some claim the fee paid to kill one elephant, can pay for the conservation of many more), can we not also say that these beautiful animals are of more value while alive, as thousands of tourists are happy to pay to see them on game drives?
Illegal poaching in Africa poses serious threats to biodiversity, including the possible extinction of species. Poaching has driven a huge decline in Africa’s savannah elephants with almost a third (30%) wiped out between 2007 and 2014, the first ever continent-wide survey of the species has found.
Apart from the poaching epidemic spreading geographically and into official structures, countries have implemented many issues on deal with poaching like recruitment and resource provision of rangers with sophisticated equipment and educating the public on dwindling wildlife populations due to illegal trade and poaching.
Botswana is presently home to roughly a third of Africa’s elephants and is a popular destination for tourists seeking the scenery of the ancient Kalahari Desert and the huge concentrations of wildlife in Chobe National Park.
In response to wildlife crime, some countries have declared a ‘war on poaching’. The government of Botswana in 2013 announced that it had devised and implemented a controversial ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, targeting suspected poachers.
It is documented that over the past two decades, 30 Namibians and at least 22 Zimbabweans have been killed in Botswana anti-poaching operations – but Namibian community and rights’ groups claim the figure could be much higher. They have urged Botswana to exercise restraint when dealing with poachers. Anti-poaching operations have also increased border tensions between Botswana and Namibia, amid claims that the BDF has violated Namibia’s sovereignty.
Let me categorically state from my heart that I hate poachers! Yes in my vein poachers deserve death because of their cruelty to animals. But as a professional I have to think beyond my dislike.
“In Botswana, the ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy is arguably justified in terms of Section 4(2)(d) of the Constitution, which provides that a person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his or her life in contravention of Section 4(1) of the Constitution if he or she dies in order to prevent the commission by that person of a criminal offence, or if he or she dies as the result of a lawful act of war.” They argue that: “We believe that a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy is the only anti-poaching method that clearly signals that wild animals deserve to live”.
Furtherance the report acknowledges that the ‘green militarisation’ policy has created tension in northern Botswana, where communities have to live amongst wildlife, but suggests that these tensions relate to poorly managed human-wildlife conflicts and rural communities’ belief that the government prioritises conservation over human welfare.
This tension belies the effectiveness of the policy and proves that the policy is a means to and end and not the entire solution. Ace on natural resources believes instead of the shoot to kill policy the government should have engaged their Namibian counterparts on a more candid approach in resolving the issue!
In fact my understanding of the law, is that what is provided for is that force can only be applied in defence of the person and his property provided that such force is reasonable in the circumstances. He said that even where a poacher is armed, if he is not using any force to repel any lawful arrest, it would be unlawful to open fire on him with the sole purpose of killing. Sad.
Many key ingredients should be considered when dealing with poaching incidents on the Chobe-Zambezi river system borders. Let’s understand this, that on the Botswana side it’s a National Park and on the Namibian side is a conservancy that allows for cropping and fishing. This is the problem. We share the river systems although Namibians can fish in our shows, and legal offtake elephants in their area during hunting season.
We share many bilateral cooperation models with the Namibians due to proximal influence and social cultural exchange. I salute the Masisi led government to revoke the policy because it will restore peace and order between Botswana and Namibia. Botswana and Namibia are part of the KAVANGO-ZAMBEZI TRANSFRONTIER CONSERVATION AREA (KAZA TFCA) of which issues of poaching are extensively dealt with among neighbouring countries. Batswana should not be excited by the use of guns on human beings, especially if they don’t show any threats.