PRESS RELEASE: Botswana’s battle against wildlife crime boosted with new legal guides

Space for Giants’ Shamini Jayanathan with Botswana’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Tiroyakgosi

GABORONE, 18 AUGUST 2017 – Poachers face significantly strengthened legal action with the adoption of an innovative new ‘Rapid Reference Guide’ designed to support Botswana’s judiciary as it fights wildlife crime.

In partnership with the Tlhokomela Trust, Space for Giants, an international conservation organisation, worked closely with Botswana’s Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the country’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to create an investigation and prosecution toolkit, titled the ‘Rapid Reference Guide to Wildlife Crime’.

It is being introduced alongside a new set of Standard Operating Procedures for prosecutors and, crucially, an objective ‘code for charging’ that the DPP has adopted and which is applicable to all crime.

Together, the documents guide different agencies battling wildlife criminals on how they can best work together. Sample charges that prosecutors can lay against suspected criminals are listed, alongside details on the relevant laws. The documents further support magistrates and judges as they adjudicate on cases and decide on the most appropriate sentencing.

The work was delivered under the Giants Club, an initiative of Space for Giants, and key funding came from Wild Lives Foundation, a leading member of the Giants Club. Hon Tshekedi Khama, Botswana’s Minister for Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, lent his support as a Board Member of the Tlhokomela Trust, Botswana’s endangered wildlife trust, which is also a member of the Giants Club.

“The Tlhokomela Trust commends the work that all partners have done to draft, discuss, and now launch these very important documents,” Hon. Khama said. “Providing a sound judicial deterrent against wildlife crime is critical to our success in beating it.”

Stephen Tiroyakgosi, Director of Public Prosecutions of Botswana, who took office at the start of August, said: “In furtherance of our mission to provide a more professionalised, quality service to the public, I am delighted to launch the new national ‘code for charging’, building on the legacy of my predecessor, Mr Abraham Keetshabe.

“We are very grateful to Space for Giants and the legal expertise and support that they provided in supporting us in this endeavour. Coupled with the wildlife crime toolkit, we expect to see a great improvement in our prosecution of such crimes that threaten our natural heritage.”

More than 100 investigators, prosecutors and judicial officers have just completed training on how to use the new guidance, first in Maun and culminating in a high-level training workshop in Gaborone on the 14 and 15 August. It introduced the Standard Operating Procedures and the Rapid Reference Guide to prosecutors, investigators and magistrates dealing with wildlife crimes.

Trainees at the two-day workshop learned how to:

  • Use the Standard Operating Procedures and Rapid Reference Guide
  • Review evidence and use the new ‘code for charging’ to decide how to charge
  • Adjudicate on wildlife crime cases, give direction, and sentence
  • Make and respond to special applications using the Rapid Reference Guide
  • Properly draft charges using the Guide
  • Understand the special evidential challenges in wildlife cases

“The key outcome of the training is to strengthen the judicial, prosecutorial and investigative sectors in Botswana in the fight against wildlife crime,” said Shamini Jayanathan, Director of Law and Wildlife Justice for Space for Giants. “Enhancing capacity and standardising investigation and prosecution procedures will ensure successful cases and sentences that are deterrent enough to discourage criminals from committing wildlife crimes.”

Critical support for the programme was supplied by Wild Lives Foundation, which works to improve the quality of life for wild animals and the people that live alongside them. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) helped to fund the logistics of the training course. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) contributed by supporting the Gaborone event for magistrates, judges, prosecutors and investigators.

Philip Muruthi, AWF’s Vice President for Species Conservation said progress is being made to arrest poachers and traffickers but prosecutions often fail to lead to convictions.

“To benefit from wildlife conservation, African countries must stop the poaching crisis first and that is why this training on the use of the Standard Operating Procedures and Rapid Reference Guide is so appropriate and timely,’’ Dr Muruthi said.

Following the launch, the Rapid Reference Guide and the Standard Operating Procedures can be immediately implemented and further workshops will be held to roll out the use of the tools nationwide.


Notes to Editors

For more information please contact Mike Pflanz, Communications Director of Space for Giants, at or +254 735 446226.

The Tlhokomela Trust facilitates conservation activities in Botswana, with a focus on national and sustainable fundraising that ensures long-term support to protect Botswana’s endangered species. Its Patron is His Excellency Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, Botswana’s President. Its objectives include raising funds for continued monitoring of endangered species, promoting endangered species for the conservation of biodiversity in Botswana, and promoting scientific and educational studies of endangered species. The Trust also supports activities that deter the illegal wildlife trade and in the event of poaching, supports stakeholders on the ground with the most up-to-date technology, equipment and training.

The Giants Club unites visionary leaders of African elephant-range states, enlightened heads of major businesses operating in Africa, global philanthropists, key influencers and leading wildlife protection experts. Together, these individuals provide the very highest levels of political action, financial investment, global influence and technical capacity that are needed to protect Africa’s remaining elephant populations from poaching, habitat loss, and human-elephant conflict. The Giants Club is an initiative of Space for Giants. Its goal is to protect half of Africa’s elephants by 2020. The four countries represented in the Club’s founding membership are together home to half of Africa’s savannah elephants and half of its forest elephants.

Wild Lives Foundation (“Wild Lives”) is a private foundation established in 2016 and directed by Jody Allen. Wild Lives is a professional grant-making organisation committed to working creatively, resourcefully and collaboratively to guarantee a higher quality of life to animals and the people in communities that surround them.

 Space for Giants is an international conservation charity that protects Africa’s elephants from immediate threats like poaching while working to secure their habitats forever in landscapes facing ever-increasing pressures. Everywhere we work, in Kenya, Gabon, Uganda, and Botswana, we use science and best-practice to develop and deliver anti-poaching initiatives, secure protected landscapes for elephants, work to lessen the problems that arise where people and elephants live alongside each other, and provide conservation training and education. We are based in Kenya, and registered as a charity in the UK and a non-profit in the US.

The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), founded in 1961 as the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation, is an international conservation organisation that focuses on critically important landscapes in Africa. Its programmes and conservation strategies are designed to protect the wildlife and wild lands of Africa and ensure a more sustainable future for Africa’s people. Since its inception, the organisation has protected endangered species and land, promoted conservation enterprises, and trained hundreds of African nationals in conservation—all to ensure the survival of Africa’s unparalleled wildlife heritage.