With the rising level of poaching activity in the Ngamiland area, the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism have introduced Special Wildlife Scouts to help in their daily patrols.
This was said by the Permanent Secretary Edmond Moabi when launching other initiatives, Park Management Committees and Honorary Wildlife Officers who will be an addition to the Wildlife department. Currently there are 19 Honorary Wildlife Officers. Moabi said that Special Scouts will be working like special constables at Botswana Police Service once their employment process has been completed.
“We are to engage Special Wildlife Scouts who will be patrolling with our trained officers to curb poaching and our recruitment will be different from that of special constables.” The Permanent Secretary said that they are looking at taking advantage of the soon to be introduced park fees and use it to cover their budget for special scouts while park management committees will use budget allocated to their parks.
He said that if there was need for more funds they would approach government to get from Ipelegeng coffers. “We want to take the increment that will be put in place while the government will remain with the current charges.”
The Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism is still in discussion with Tour and Safari operators to have an increase on park fees and the issue has been on the table since April this year.
According to Moabi the park management committees will oversees management of parks while the honorary officers will be carrying out same duties as wildlife officers. “The honorary and special scouts will be given uniform and cards for identification and will have powers to search and arrest just like any wildlife officer,” he pointed out.
Moabi mentioned that poaching has become complicated and they have engaged other security agencies and an anti poaching unit to help. He said that most of the animals that are target are buffalo and elephants especially in Okavango and areas like Toteng, Sehithwa, Mababe, Sankoyo, Khwai and Matsibe. He said that they have engaged Botswana Defence Force to look at Chobe and Moremi National Parks while other security organs will be allocated to other parks to avoid congestion.
“A specific area will be handled by one group to avoid congestion of officers in one park,” he mentioned. However Moabi could not state the number of Special Scouts that they are going to employ.