… as reports of two rhinos killed at Khama Rhino Sanctuary emerge
Former president Ian Khama has accused the government of incompetence and cover-ups in rhino poaching incidents that he says are spiralling out of control. This follows unconfirmed reports that two rhinos were recently killed at Khama Rhino Sanctuary which is supposed to be a highly protected territory.
In an interview with The Botswana Gazette, Khama – who has a reputation as a conservationist – said the government is more concerned about covering up incidents of poaching rather than acting against rampant poaching.
“We are dealing with all rhino poaching in secrecy and covering up and even threaten anyone revealing such incidents to the media. At best they are tormented by their incompetence to address the issue. At worst they are hiding their complicity.”
“We used to have the BDF deployed in the same area as today and we lost no rhino to poachers. Enter (President Mokgweetsi) Masisi and in a short space of time we lose two thirds of our rhinos in the same areas with the BDF still there.”
According to the former president, when the government decided to move surviving rhinos to Ghanzi, six of them died due to mishandling in the process. “They were to move them to safety and ended up killing some,” he said.
“Then in one part of the Okavango, private rangers were employed to protect rhinos in that particular area. Not one rhino has been poached there. But where the state is deployed with all its resources, rhinos were being poached regularly. Fishy. Now they want to remove those rhinos under the protection of about 40 private rangers to Ghanzi.”
He added that moving the rhinos to Ghanzi will render the rangers, who were recruited from local villages in the area, unemployed. “Why? Please do your calculations,” Khama said.
Asked about two alleged rhino poaching incidents at Khama Rhino Sanctuary, the Director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Dr Kabelo Senyatso, said he does not field phone interviews and asked for questions to be emailed for answering on Monday next week.
In 2021, Senyatso refuted reports that the country’s rhino population was on the verge of extinction due to poaching, saying there were isolated cases but poaching was under control.