The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, says the illegal trade in rhino horns is an international problem and therefore required the co-operation of countries where rhino horns are destined if the problem is to be eradicated.
Speaking during the translocation last week of the six white rhinos to Botswana by the &Beyond company in the Okavango delta, he said the country will continue to engage its neighbours and others to find lasting solutions to the poaching of rhinos.
“It is anticipated that the rhinos that we are releasing into the wild will contribute in no small way to boosting our small but growing white rhino population,” he said. Being the first-ever private game reserve donation of rhino to another country Khama said the rhinos represented the culmination of tireless efforts by &Beyond to contribute to Botswana’s efforts of building white rhino numbers in the delta.
“Their request was remarkable in that it was not for the purpose of stocking a game ranch or private game reserve,” he said. He indicated that in 2011, &Beyond informed the government of their desire to bring white rhino into the country. The minister assured &Beyond officials that upon the release of the animals, the government will continue to work together with them to monitor how the rhinos adapt to their new environment and to ensure their security.
Speaking on the brief background of rhino conservation in Botswana, Khama indicated that the white rhino became virtually extinct in Botswana by the end of the 19th century. A re-introduction programme was initiated in 1967, 1974 and 1980. “Unfortunately a new wave of poaching drove the species back to the brink of extinction again in the 1980s,” he said.