The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism has noted with concern a misleading news story in an article entitled “DISS caught with a secret ivory stash”, which is also the basis of an article being distributed by the South African tabloid Weekly Mail and Guardian.
In this respect we wish to inform the public that, contrary to what is alleged in the said article, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has never carried out a sting operation on a DIS Camp in Ngwasha. As such it is false and misleading that Department of Wildlife and National Parks Anti-poaching Unit uncovered a secret stash of elephant tusks in Ngwasha.
Further to the above it may be noted that Department of Wildlife and National Parks is aware of all ivory stored in temporary locations by security forces within Botswana and has arrangement to regularly collect such material from time to time.
It may be further noted that security forces are involved in Anti-Poaching operations and regular patrols in line with their mandate. During these operations they sometimes come into possession of ivory retrieved from suspects and animals that die in the wild. It is therefore within their mandate to keep such ivory and all other wildlife bye products in safe custody until it is handed over to Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
The Ministry notes with concern an attempt in the story to give an impression that the DIS has been involved in Ivory smuggling. The Ministry does not hold that opinion as the DIS is a collaborating partner in the fight against wildlife crime, and it has been allocated a specific area to manage just like other security forces.
The decision to involve Security Forces being the Botswana Defence Force, Botswana Police Services, Botswana Prison Service and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security was taken by Government. The DIS Anti-Poaching Unit was therefore not formed by an individual as alleged.
In conclusion the Ministry wishes to assure the Public of the good collaboration offered by all security forces in fighting Wildlife Crime.
Thato Y. Raphaka