A diplomatic row has erupted between Southern African neighbours, Namibia and Botswana, after Botswana border patrol soldiers shot and killed three Namibian elephant poachers.

Last week, Botswana Defence Forces (BDF) said that its patrol team deployed in the Kwando area in northern Botswana shot and killed three poachers who were in possession of elephant tusks. “BDF commended Namibian rangers for information, which led to the successful interception of the poachers. The matter had since been handed over to Botswana Police Service for conclusion,” said Botswana Defence Force in a statement. However Namibia government  condemned the killing of its  nationals saying “Namibia does not condone poaching, but called for restraint when using force.”

Tshekedi Khama, Botswana’s Environment and Tourism Minister, revealed recently that the country’s government had adopted a “shoot-to-kill” policy against poachers as a radical measure to curb the mass slaughter of elephants in the country.

An increase in poaching has heightened the chances of a decline in elephant numbers. Over 40,000 elephants were killed since 2011, a 3 percent loss to the total number of elephants on the continent.

A recent joint-report by conservation group, Born Free USA, and C4ADS revealed that governments of seven African countries are supporting elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade.The report showed that senior government officials in DR Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Gabon and Mozambique are condoning and arming criminals who kill elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns, respectively.

By George Mpofu


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