Poaching, drug peddling on the rise in Ngamiland (Maun, Botswana)


Boniface Keakabetse, Mmegi Online

Date Published

According to the United States International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), “Wildlife products have become a substantial source of income for terrorist organisations in Africa.” The organisation adds that the fact that rate of wildlife poaching has increased from 1989 to the present date, it is believed to be due to the increase in involvement of organised crime associations.

Botswana is currently battling poaching. Recently, at least 26 elephants allegedly had their faces hacked off and their tusks removed in the Chobe National Park. In another incident this time in Ngamiland, Maun police arrested two Zambian citizens and a Motswana on allegations of poaching. This was after they were found in possession of six elephant tasks. The suspects were arrested at Makalamabedi search point. The police officers stopped and searched the vehicle the trio were travelling in and found the six tusks in a specially designed hidden compartment. The suspects are expected to appear in before Maun Magistrate Court on next week on September 13.

Against the ongoing rise of poaching, there is another phenomenon –  a surge in cases of hard drugs with drug syndicates traversing every corner of the country. According to information from conservation groups, investigations have revealed evidence of both illegal wildlife trade becoming associated with shipments of other illegal imports such as narcotics and other stolen items. In Botswana, the domino effect of drugs and poaching could be established especially in the north of the country where poaching is concentrated.

However, in an interview, assistant superintendent Moatlhodi Ntuane of the police Narcotics, Flora and Fauna in Maun, said there has not been any case connecting poachers and drug dealers. Ntuane explained they are always alert to detect latest trends in crime. He said compared to poaching, cases of drug dealing in Maun is under control. He explained that this year they have dealt only with just two cases of hard drugs, one involving the National Development Bank (NDB) employees who used an official NDB car to transport drugs from Gaborone to Maun. Two employees, one from Maun and the other from Gaborone are on suspension in connection with the alleged crime.

Ntuane said in the latest case, a 39-year-old man suspected to be a drug dealer was arrested on July 26 at Boronyane with what has since been confirmed to be cocaine. The powder was contained in six different sachets. Ntuane said they expect the accused to appear in court soon.