By Justice Kavahematui
The Botswana Defence Force was early this week forced to send a battalion of soldiers to the Chobe National Park under emergency circumstances in an effort to contain ivory poaching which is becoming a major problem with its attendant vice of wholesome slaughter of game.
The problem has apparently gone out of control in the area, the very heartbeat of Botswana tourism. This is one of the protected areas where tourists pay a fee to see wild animals. Poachers have found a way of killing elephants in large numbers right under the noses of armed BDF soldiers deployed to control the menace.
Just this Saturday, three elephants were short dead in the park for ivory. Initial reports that reached this publication were that there was a shootout between the poachers and some BDF officers and that three officers died in the crossfire.
However, some army sources have come out clear to state that there was never a shootout and no officer died. At the time of going to press the army was still working on an official response to the matter. On Saturday evening poachers apparently entered the park and killed three elephants about six kilometers from Lesoma near the border with Zimbabwe before disappearing with their tusks.
An anti-poaching officers at the scene said they heard gunshots and rushed to the area. "It was in the park in an area called Sedudu," he said. However, because it was already dark the wildlife officers had to retrace their steps back to base. On Sunday morning they went back to investigate and found three elephants dead.
The poachers had escaped with the tusks. Meanwhile, The Midweek Sun understands that an emergency deployment of 400 BDF officers from Gaborone and Francistown was dispatched to Chobe this week to augment the fight against poaching.