Friday, July 16, 2010

The war on poaching

A recent article in the press reported that some major conservation agencies are resorting to military-style tactics to protect wildlife species and habitat. Mentioned in the article was the purchase of high powered weapons and spotter planes and the deployment of military personnel to train anti-poaching units. This comes at a time when research carried out by international species monitoring bodies like IUCN and TRAFFIC show that poaching and habitat destruction are still two of the most consequential factors in the ever-increasing rate of biodiversity loss. In many instances heavily targeted species are being pushed towards extinction. Against this backdrop, its is fair to say that the traditional anti-poaching methods are not coping and fighting fire with fire is not new. Probably the best documented instance is that of the Botswana Defence Force being deployed to fight poaching since the mid-1980s. Using a shoot to kill policy and military equipment to overcome the logistical challenge of operating in the Okavango, Linyati and Chobe Wetlands, it has been very successful. This article is available in the July issue of Africa Geographic in the HOORC Library.

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