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Botswana Loses a Third of Rhinos to Poaching

Undated picture released by Kensington Palace of Prince Harry who is the new Patron of Rhino Conservation Botswana.
Undated picture released by Kensington Palace of Prince Harry who is the new Patron of Rhino Conservation Botswana.

Authorities in Botswana Monday reported that the southern African nation experienced a huge spike in rhino poaching over the past five years which accounts for a third of the population of the endangered animal.

Botswana’s Tourism minister Philda Kereng Monday addressed parliament where she told lawmakers that over 138 rhinos were slaughtered between 2018 and 2022, a surged statistic in comparison to the reports of two rhinos poached in the preceding five years from 2012-2017.

Kereng’s parliamentary address showed that rhino killings rose to seven in 2018, before spiking to 30 the following year. In 2020 the killings rose again to 62 but halved to 33 in 2021 before dropping to six last year.

The southern African minister attributed the reported spikes to “increased demand for rhino horn in the international market, hence poachers,” also “a displacement of international criminal syndicates from other southern African states.”

Neighboring South Africa, the traditional rhino poaching hotspot, has in recent years witnessed a steady decline in animals killed resulting from increased patrols in national parks which has forced poachers to look elsewhere.

Despite reports in South Africa of poaching declining, authorities recently partnered with the U.S. Treasury to form a task force that is mandated with combatting the financing of wildlife trafficking.

The U.S. department released a statement in January which said the task force is mandated with sharing financial red flags linked to wildlife trafficking cases, increasing the sharing of financial intelligence between the two nations, and improving controls to combat money laundering.

Janet Yellen, the U.S. Treasury Secretary recently visited a game reserve in South Africa during her visit to the continent, where she spoke on attempts by Washington to curb animal poaching in Africa.

“To help save wildlife populations from further poaching and disrupting the associated illicit trade, we must ‘follow the money’ in the same way we do with other serious crimes,” said Yellen.

VOA’s Kate Bartlett contributed to this report. Information was sourced from Agence France-Presse.