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BirdLife Botswana bustard poaching probe

illegal cross-border trafficking

BirdLife Botswana has undertaken an investigation of Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori poaching and found the practice to be widespread, both for local consumption and for export to South Africa and beyond. The Kori Bustard is the world’s largest bustard and occurs across sub-Saharan Africa. Although still common in some protected areas, it is currently experiencing rapid population declines across much of its range. Botswana is a stronghold for the species, but it is threatened by habitat loss due to overgrazing and poaching. The study focused on 16 settlements bordering the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) and Khutse Game Reserve (KGR)—both strongholds for Kori Bustard in Botswana."We found that many Kori Bustards are poached for local consumption, mainly by men over 30,” says BirdLife Botswana’s Kabelo Senyatso. “Snares are mostly used to kill birds in KGR, whilst guns are favoured in KTP. In some areas only tribal elders are allowed to eat bustard meat. Sometimes a traditional doctor is brought in to 'treat' it before it is eaten, because of a belief that bustard meat can otherwise cause mental illness."

"We also found evidence of illegal cross-border trafficking in live bustards. Up to 10 at a time are smuggled into South Africa where they are sold as a delicacy to wealthy individuals or exported outside Africa." —Kabelo Senyatso, BirdLife Botswana.

However, on a positive note, the study found no evidence of trade in Kori Bustard body parts was found within Botswana, unlike other range states.

The study was funded by the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund and the Global Environment Facility/Small Grants Programme (Botswana office).

4th July 2014