Two Chinese nationals linked to illegal trade in rhino horns and elephant tusks were this week deported to their native home.The deportation order- although shrouded in secrecy-was a culmination of a legal tussle between the state and the poachers who are believed to be members of a ruthless syndicate operating an elaborate scheme to impoverish the southern African region of its rich wildlife resources.
A source from the legal fraternity that spoke to this newspaper said that Justice Walia sentenced the man and woman (relationship not determined) Wednesday morning at Gaborone High Court Chambers. An order for their deportation was immediately made. Although BG News could not independently verify this information from the Director of Immigration Flora Lekoko at the time of writing, her political master- Labour and Home Affairs minister Edwin Batshu confirmed the developments.
“What I can confirm is that there are some Chinese guys who were caught for illegal poaching. They were in possession of ivory,” he said, adding that government has “got all reasons to deport those Chinese.” The legal source said the scale of poaching had gone out of proportion, employing sophisticated tactics and getting dangerous by the day. Further he said Botswana was being used as a “conduit” for the illegal trade in rhino horns, which has lately got in vogue with a lucrative and assured market in Asia, especially China and Vietnam.
The Asians are said to use the rhino horn as a potent aphrodisiac. It is also believed to be an elixir for various ailments in a tradition that spans centuries. Meantime, it is said that police in Francistown have raided some Chinese homes and discovered stashes of tusks hidden in ceilings. In a recent interview with a local Sunday newspaper, National Anti-Poaching Coordinator, Brigadier Sentsekae Macheng expressed frustration at the complex intrigue that defines the illegal wildlife trafficking. He said it involves “collusion” between state agents including wildlife officers and the poachers.
South African journalist and author of a recently launched exposé on the illegal trade in rhino horn, Julian Rademeyer, collaborates this version when he implicates an intricate web of diplomats, prostitutes, gun-toting criminals, politicians and poachers in the illegal trade.