Following the decision to tighten borders in Botswana to curb the spread of COVID-19, at least six rhinos have been killed by poachers.
Rhino Conservation Botswana founder Map Ives revealed that rhino poaching had become a crisis since tourism was stopped.
“The poachers have been emboldened because the playing field is in their favour and they won’t have as many problems moving around,” said Ives.
Ives added that though rangers were still present in African reserves, the absence of tourists going on game drives meant that rhinos and other animals had fewer sets of eyes to watch over them.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi warned that his government would fight the poachers, most of whom come in from neighboring Namibia and Zambia and according to Voice of America, Botswana security forces have already killed five suspected poachers in April, 2020.
“Poachers do not bear a spear or a knobkerrie, or a knife, like some of those who break into households,” President Masisi said.
“Poachers bear sophisticated arms and are sufficiently radicalized to kill so they are dangerous. We put an army in place to defend this country, so any intruder is an enemy. And unfortunately, as with any war, there are casualties.”
South Africa has also recorded nine rhino deaths since the country was put in lockdown.