Live by the gun, die by the gun: An Analysis of Botswana’s ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy as an anti-poaching strategy

Goemeone Emmanuel Judah Mogomotsi, Patricia Kefilwe Madigele


Notwithstanding the adoption of various anti-poaching strategies, rhino and elephant poaching levels are increasingly growing in Southern African. To protect wildlife, the government of Botswana has devised and implemented controversial ‘shoot to kill’ policy against poachers. This strategy appears to be working in reducing poaching which is thought to be ‘virtually non-existent’ in Botswana. Thus the neighbouring countries have resorted to relocate their rhino populations to Botswana. This paper discusses the militarisation of conservation generally as a policy alternative. It makes an in-depth assessment of Botswana’s shoot-to-kill policy. This article adopts an exploratory research method to review the relevant literature in investigating the effectiveness of Botswana’s shoot-to-kill policy. It investigates whether this policy can be adopted by other countries particularly South Africa to combat poaching. This policy analysis is important for South Africa as it has been forced to transfer or migrate a substantial number of rhinos to Botswana. 


poaching; rhinos; elephants; green militarisation; shoot-to-kill; effectiveness; Botswana

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