Botswana, a landlocked country in southern Africa, is one of the countries with the highest number of elephants. In 2015, the country recorded 135,000 elephants at large, more than a third of the elephant population in Africa. Botswana is also considered to be one of the most protective and severe states in the protection of wildlife and the environment. A policy that seems to pay since the number of elephants in Botswana has tripled in 30 years while falling everywhere else on the continent. But since July 2018, dozens of corpses of dead elephants have been found daily, shot dead for their ivory tusks.
The worst episode of poaching in Africa
Since July 2018, the NGO Elephants Without Borders has made a sad statement. In the space of two months, nearly a hundred dead elephants were found, killed by large caliber bullets and stripped of their ivory tusks. It is in the Okavango delta reserve, in the north of the country, that the census of elephants killed is the most important. The Okavango is home to the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, a protected area and game reserve in Botswana. A valuable space for the conservation of species and the animals that live there. Yet it is near the water points of this reserve that most of the elephants found in recent months have been killed. So far, the elephant population had been more or less spared by poachers…
Botswana now has 3 times more African elephants than 30 years ago. A situation that contrasts with the rest of the African continent where the pachyderm population has dropped by 15% in almost 10 years. But how has Botswana managed to reverse the trend and effectively fight poachers ? Above all, why is the situation becoming worrying today for African elephants ?
Relaxation of the “poacher hunt”
Seretse Khama Ian Khama, former President of the Republic of Botswana from 2008 to 2018, has put in place important policies for the protection of the environment and the defense of the country’s wildlife. One of the key measures : the police were allowed to fire on poachers. Botswana’s justice system is also one of the most severe in terms of environmental crimes. According to the NGO Elephants Without Borders, these measures have been effective since, in 2014, very few elephant carcasses were found and none of these animals were killed by poachers. In 2015, Tshekedi Khama, brother of the president and Botswana’s Minister of Environment and Tourism, warned potential poachers : “If you enter our country with a weapon to shoot at our natural resources… and if you think of coming out alive, you will be disappointed .”
However, in May 2018, Mokgweetsi Masisi was elected new president of Botswana. Among his first decisions was the disarmament of anti-poaching units of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. The President has never really explained his decision… Worse : the government is currently denying the discovery of the 90 corpses of poached elephants. Would the government be afraid of being held responsible for the increase in poaching in the country ?
For several years, the OMPE has wanted to set up “Charles Darwin Parks“. This large-scale project involves the creation of giant animal parks in every country in the world, including about 200 Charles Darwin Parks composed of, among other things, an enhanced security anti-poaching system.