An anti-poaching unit, led by Botswana’s government, is at the forefront of conservation practices in Africa, reported the Independent
The country is the first in Africa to act on the potential of high quality, low impact tourism, combining high standards of tourism experiences and conservation, despite other countries like South Africa and Kenya introducing many rigorous anti-poaching projects.
South Africa relies on the private sector to tackle poaching, but observers say that only government, and not private companies, can afford a robust anti-poaching unit to be deployed across vast areas to watch over the rhino population, for example.
The country’s Kruger National Park, for decades a place for the successful breeding of black and white rhinos, now has one of the continent’s highest poaching rates and faces the extinction of both species.
Similarly, before 2001, Botswana didn’t have a single rhino left in the wild, and the significantly dwindling numbers, saved from poaching, were shipped to safety.
However, in 2001 the government enlisted the military to protect the rhino, and having almost been eradicated the population was reintroduced to its natural habitat and has been successfully rebuilt.
Dave Smeerdijk, a former guide and co-founder of a collection of owner-operated African lodges in Botswana, told The Independent that the forward-thinking partnership between the government and tourism industry, along with a small population and conscientious communities, could change the way anti-poaching units function and save more species from extinction.
Tourism is the second largest source of income for Botswana after diamond-mining, a sizeable amount of which is now being put back into financing wildlife and national parks and their anti-poaching units, says Sehenyi Tlotlego, philanthropy coordinator at Abercrombie & Kent in Botswana.
The profits made from poaching often prove too enticing for poor locals and criminal enterprises.
Read More: The plight of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, has gone viral following a photo which was posted online to demonstrate the meaning of extinction, The Telegraph reported on November 9, 2017