Botswana has decided to re-arm its wildlife rangers as the southern African country battles increased cases of poaching.
In the last six months, at least 17 poachers have been killed in gunfire exchanges with the army.
The government had disarmed wildlife rangers in 2018, saying that under the law, only the military was allowed the use of firearms during anti-poaching patrols.
With the country losing 56 rhinoceros to poachers in the last two years, the government is reconsidering that approach. Former Rhino Conservation Botswana director Map Ives welcomes moves to re-arm the anti-poaching officers.
“I have long said the re-arming of the DWNP is a very good thing. Remember these guys are armed, not only against poachers but also against wild animals they encounter during the course of their duties. I also believe that the fight against poaching should not be a military fight. It is a criminal fight,” said Ives.
He said to battle poachers, Botswana also needs assistance with intelligence information from neighboring countries.
Botswana has started dehorning rhinos and moving them to new locations in a bid to fend off poachers.