Gaborone – Rhino poaching has reached "unprecedented" levels in the southern African nation of Botswana this year, authorities said Wednesday.
In the past six months alone, nine rhinos were killed for their horns, said environment minister Alice Mmolawa, calling the numbers "deeply worrying."
"Rhino poachers it seems have now turned their attention to Botswana," Mmolawa added.
Botswana, where rhino poaching has been minimal up until now, is regarded as a safe haven for the pachyderms.
In 2016 only one of the nation’s 400 rhinos was poached, while in 2017 no rhino was killed.
Countries where poaching is rife, like South Africa, have been sending their rhinos to Botswana to protect them.
In South Africa, 318 rhinos were killed for their horns in the six months between January and June this year.
Botswana’s success in keeping poaching incidents low has been attributed to its strict anti-poaching police as well as the government contracting the army to protect the animals.
There are only about 25,000 black and white rhinos left in Africa. They are killed for their horns, which are believed to have medicinal purposes or used as an aphrodisiac, especially in Asia.