Botswana says COVID-19 measures positively affected anti-poaching operations

The impacts of Covid-19 have had a positive outcome for rhino in Botswana. Image: Pixabay.

David Ochieng Mbewa, CGTN Africa | March 3, 2021

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Strict measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic have bolstered anti-poaching operations of Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and its partners, the wildlife agency said on Tuesday.

The DWNP made the revelation in response to a social media post by a former government official which alleged that about 120 rhinos, with and without horns, had been killed in 18 months and there “will be none left for tourists to come and watch” after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

The DWNP said it was disappointed by the post which could have a negative effect on the country’s tourism sector and bordered on economic sabotage.

The DWNP instead noted that certain COVID-19 measures have had a “direct and significant positive impact” on measures against wildlife hunting and related activities.

“…DWNP wishes to assure members of the public that the COVID 19 Lockdown and curfew have in fact had a very direct and significant positive impact on the anti-poaching operations of DWNP and its collaborators,” the DWNP said in a statement.

The DWNP added that various anti-wildlife activities and related matters in the 12 months since the COVID-19 pandemic had decreased by more than two-thirds compared to a similar period a year before.

“Reports of all transgressions against wildlife, including subsistence and commercial poaching, killing of ‘problem animals’ by farmers, illegal wildlife trade, wildlife poisoning events, vehicle accidents with wildlife, arrests for unlawful possession of government trophy (e.g. game animal skins, game meat etc.), and all other issues of interest to the law enforcement agencies, have decreased by over 70% when one compares the 12-months pre-COVID 19 (March 2019 to February 2020) with the 12-month COVID 19 period (March 2020 to February 2021),” the ministry said.

The department appealed to the public to verify any anti-poaching data with it before making public statements in addition to protecting the country’s wildlife resources.

Tourism is Botswana’s second highest foreign revenue earner; however, the sector has been battered by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.