24 Aug 2018
On the 18th of August, a dead white rhino was discovered in the Okavango Delta, prompting law enforcement agencies to intensify patrols. This was the second rhino that was killed at the delta since last year.
The carcass was discovered during a routine join anti-poaching patrol by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), Botswana Defence Force and non-governmental organisations.
DWNP coordinator Timothy Blackbeard described the horns to have been ‘cruelly’ removed and said that the incident was suspected to be an opportunist crime rather than an organised one. Other investigation agencies such as Botswana Police and Intelligence Services are also looking into the case.
South Africa has one of the highest levels of poaching. In 2013, 95% of poaching occurred in South Africa and Kenya – However, Blackbeard said that poaching is not as common in Botswana as it is in neighbouring countries such as Namibia.
Poaching is mainly driven by the alleged medicinal value of horn – even though studies have proved that the keratin in a horn is just as beneficial to humans as chewing one’s own fingernails. However, the lasting beliefs have led to horn selling for around $65,000 per kilo on the black market.
Additionally, poachers are unlikely to encounter many difficulties, which doesn’t help to put an end to the crime. Since rhinos often use watering holes, they are a predictable target. The fact that some rhinos are so habituated to people doesn’t help either – seeing as they are less likely to run away from poachers. The torturous crimes are often done during a full moon for better visibility and can take as little as 10 minutes.
Thankfully, there are little steps that can be done to prevent poaching. Looking into organisations which allow rhino adoptions or donations is one of the best ways to aid Botswana’s fight against the crime.