This week, Botswana soldiers shot a suspected poacher in a gunfight that happened in the Okavango Delta, Botswana’s military said, where poaching has reached unprecedented heights.
Botswana’s anti-poaching unit has killed 19 suspects since 2019, as the government employs a shoot-to-kill policy.
According to Botswana Defense Force’s Major Mabikwa Mabikwa, poachers are using sophisticated weapons of war and communication equipment adding that the army is up to the challenge.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi recently said the military will not hesitate to shoot poachers.
“Poachers are sufficiently radicalized to kill, so they are dangerous,” said Masisi. “We put an army in place to defend this country, so any intruder is an enemy. And unfortunately, as with any war, there are casualties.”
Rhinos are the most targeted by poachers with 56 of the endangered animals killed in the last two years.
The government recently decided to dehorn all the rhinos and relocate them to secure private locations.
The principal veterinary officer from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben said in addition to dehorning the rhinos, anti-poaching efforts will be intensified.
“We expect to see the results. It (dehorning) is meant to disincentive,” Reuben said.
“This does not in any way replace our anti-poaching strategies that we put in place. In fact, we up our anti-poaching operations and augment them further to ensure that any perpetrators that come in, they are brought to book.”
The Okavango Delta is wet and challenging to navigate, with some areas inaccessible by road. Most poachers cross over from neighboring countries.