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Mystery Okavango rhino poaching sparks fears

BONIFACE KEAKABETSE
Rhinos PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
MAUN: The mysterious killing of a rhino recently in the Okavango Delta has forced wildlife officials here to move quickly and calm fears that poaching syndicates have returned to the World Heritage Site.

A rhino was shot dead in the Delta, but not dehorned in an incident that has raised concerns that syndicates may now be targeting the ecologically safe haven.

Acting director of operations in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Moemi Batshabang said rhino poaching in the Okavango Delta was under control.

In an interview, he said they had strengthened and intensified anti-poaching surveillance and operations after the rhino’s killing.

“Poaching is under control. This rhino is the first to be killed by suspected poachers,” he said. However Mmegi has information that in 2013, another rhino was poached near Xaraga settlement and its horns spirited away. 

Over the years, the Delta has become a safe haven for various international conservationists who have translocated rhinos, particularly from South Africa. One such organisation, Rhinos Without Borders, is targeting the movement of 100 rhinos from South Africa

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to the Okavango Delta.

The organisation recently announced that they have daily monitoring programme in place to keep a close eye on the health and safety of the rhinos translocated.

In a previous interview, assistant superintendent Moathodi Biki Ntuane revealed that a Zimbabwean man, Partson Tapera Gotora, was suspected to have acquired the rhino horn of the rhino killed in Xaraga. Gotora had been included in Interpol’s red alert for international wanted persons. The Zimbabwean, who lived in Francistown at the time of the crime, was never caught and is suspected to be in his native Zimbabwe or South Africa. 

Gotora and two Water Utilities Corporation employees, Jacob Thabare (42), and Keorapetse Itheetseng (33), as well as Morafe Disalahoo (51), of Nxaraga village, and George Thimbumburu (37), from Sedie ward in Maun, currently have a case before the Maun magistrate court.



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