No resources should be spared in our efforts to parry off what is by all accounts an attack on our sovereignty.
As economic statistics would show, Botswana’s reliance on her wildlife has been growing exponentially over the last few years as tourists throng our shores to view some of the animals that thanks to our conservation efforts we still have in abundance even as the same animals have elsewhere in many other countries been long depleted.
The state should marshal all resources at disposal to fight poachers, especially those commercial ones that kill, not for the pot by for export to the lucrative markets in Asia.
The world is today reeling from organized poaching that is professionally managed, well resourced and internationally connected.
Some observers have commented that the scale and complexity of this cross border crime poses the biggest security threat for many nations today, especially in Africa.
Governments of such countries like China, Thailand and others in South East Asia that have been proved to be markets for many of the animals killed in Africa, especially the rhino must go beyond just official criticism of their citizens. They must take ownership of the crimes by their citizens in the plunder and rampage of Africa’s wildlife.
They must back their actions with words by applying their well known swift and harsh judicial processes to their citizens found to engaged and feeding into the frenzy of this genocidal criminality.
It is clear that without efforts of the Asian countries that are feeding the appetite for the mass slaughter of animals in countries like Botswana, African governments alone will not win the war.
The loss by Africa is neither on account of a shortage of goodwill nor political will but simply because African governments with many of their priorities centered around basic survival items for their populations are clearly no match for criminal syndicates some of whom are now using helicopters in their evil trade, backed by sophisticated communications systems, not to mention well trained personnel enjoying backups far more advanced than many of Africa’s regular armies.
The world over, Botswana is known for detailed conservation programmes that have seen once endangered species grow from the brink of extinction to such numbers where they are today a menace to the environment unless culled.
We must as a country build on such a track record to fight the new poaching threats.
The danger that we face can only be overcome if we pull together as a nation.
And this means reporting any suspicious activities in such areas where poaching is a known possibility.
Communities must establish relationships with law enforcement agencies.
As we know such relations are only possible if law enforcement agencies themselves are approachable and treat local communities as respected and worthy partners in the war against poaching.
The extent to which poachers have ransacked and dissipated the rhino populations in South Africa especially should be spine chilling enough for a small country like Botswana.
This is not only because we share a long and porous border with South Africa, but more especially because South Africa is much more advanced in technology and resources that are necessary to fight poaching.