Wildlife crimes and poaching incidents have been on the increase in recent years, across the African continent, and Botswana has not been spared. Poaching is more organised and the transnational nature of such criminal activity has evolved and diversified with links that include human migrant exploitation, money laundering, arms and drugs trafficking to name a few.
The escalating demand and interest for wildlife and wildlife products has created a niche market for poachers to meet that demand. As a result, the traditional trends in poaching have changed drastically to meet the escalating demands. Inevitably the advent of new poaching techniques and commercial poaching has resulted in mass killings and over-harvesting of wildlife products which in its form is purely profit orientated and highly destructive.
Faced with this growing threat within the borders of Botswana, the need to combat and arrest this scourge is apparent. In response, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Botswana, together with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, instigated the first inter-agency forum on wildlife crime in November 2016 in Gaborone to develop this “points to prove” guide to wildlife crime. This toolkit encompasses all relevant offences under existing laws at the time of publication and is intended to be used as a quick reference guide for investigators, prosecutors and judges alike. This toolkit lays out what is required to build an evidential case against those accused of wildlife crime; it also sets out the ancillary powers available to the court and provides sample charges to assist investigators and prosecutors correctly draft the appropriate charge.
Finally, this toolkit includes best practice guidance aimed at enhancing investigations and fostering better relations between the agencies involved in the fight to preserve Botswana’s heritage and biodiversity. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks would thank Shamini Jayanathan, Legal Director of Space for Giants for her legal expertise in bringing this to bear, the United Nations of Office and Drugs and Crime, the European Union, the Wildlives Foundation and the Tlokomela Trust for their unerring and generous support to this venture.
This toolkit should be read in conjunction with the “Code for Prosecutors on the Decision to Charge” issued by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions in 2017.