WINDHOEK - Two suspected poachers believed to be Namibians were shot and killed by Botswana Defence Force (BDF) on Sunday while tracking a rhino they had shot in Moremi Game Reserve in northern Botswana, the media reported.
“The nationalities of the two is still unknown but [it is] suspected they may be from neighbouring Namibia. Police investigations are ongoing as bodies of the two deceased are at Letsholathebe Hospital in Maun,” online publication INK Centre for Investigative Journalism reported on Tuesday, quoting Acting Maun police chief, Superintendent Samuel Kgomo as having said.
Kgomo said two suspected rhino poachers tracking a wounded rhino where ambushed by BDF Anti-Poaching Unit near Mombo Camp in the wildlife -rich Okavango Delta and were shot and killed on the spot.
Botswana has an unwritten shoot to kill policy towards suspected ivory poachers.
He said BDF anti-poaching unit which was on patrol were alerted to gunshots and went to investigate. On the way, they found a wounded female rhino and took cover hoping the poachers to arrive.
“As expected, poachers came chasing after the rhino. The BDF officers did not waste time as they killed the two poachers on the spot,” Kgomo revealed.
The female rhino was later found dead metres from the scene. It leaves a young calf.
He said the army discovered a special assault rifle in possession of the poachers and 10 bullets.
In 2015, it was reported in the media that the Botswana security forces, as a result of the unwritten shoot-to-kill policy, killed at least 30 Namibians and 22 Zimbabweans.
This use of unreasonable force by the Botswana security agents has in 2015 resulted in diplomatic tension with the Namibian government.
This was after Botswana’s security agents in 2015 killed two Namibian citizens, suspected of being poachers because they were found roaming along the country’s borders with Botswana.
The two Namibians, Maziezi Tekulo Salomon (26) and Manyuka Shakawyae Iwana (29) were allegedly discovered with four elephant tusks in their possession in the Kwando area.
At the time, then Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Peya Mushelenga told a daily newspaper that the shooting of Namibians at the game reserve was uncalled for and was done without investigation.
Mushelenga was also quoted in the media saying that government condemned the random shooting of Namibian citizens suspected of being poachers at the Botswana borders.
He was also quoted saying that the Botswana’s security agents were too quick to pull the trigger. “We have our own laws in Namibia on how to react to such situations. Botswana has a death sentence, but shooting is not a solution,” he was quoted as saying.
In 2013, Botswana Environment Minister Tshekedi Khama said in an interview with British journalist that would-be poachers needed to know that they might not go home alive and would be shot even if they surrender. This is a developing story.