After a sharp increase in rhino poaching in March left at least six rhinos dead in Botswana’s northwest, government workers are trying to evacuate the few black rhinos left in the area to safety.
There are only a few black rhinos remaining in the area, but locating them has proven difficult amid the severe flooding making many roads inaccessible.
The absence of safari tourists due to the pandemic has spurred on poachers. Derek Joubert and his wife, Beverly, who lead Rhinos Without Borders, an organization that aims to relocate rhinos from poaching zones in South Africa to safer areas in Botswana, are assisting the efforts to evacuate the rhinos from this area of Botswana to an undisclosed location.
According to a statement by the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks, “The Ministry is very conscious that poachers may try to take advantage of the lockdown and the lack of movement by tourists in remote areas to carry out their illegal activities.”
Although there has been no poaching incident since the lockdown started on April 3, 2020, in Botswana, it is believed to be the result of heightened anti-poaching surveillance. The same statement made by the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks on April 27, explains that six poachers have been killed in the space of one month.
Regarding this particular evacuation, time is of the essence. Joubert and government workers believe the move must be completed by early May’s full moon on May 7 as poachers use the moon’s light to track and kill the animals without flashlights.
Joubert told National Geographic, “Every time there’s a blood moon or a full moon in Africa everyone involved in conservation — particularly conservation of rhinos — shivers.”