Over half of Botswana is covered by the Kalahari Desert, yet it’s one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

The Republic of Botswana may be one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries, but it also happens to be one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Over the years, it has transformed into a middle-income country with a competitive banking system and a growing mineral industry that accounts for about 40 percent of its GDP.

The Kalahari Desert covers about 70 percent of this flat, landlocked country. But this semi-desert supports more wildlife than a true desert —  it offers huge tracts of grasslands for grazing after rains. In addition to its vast desert ecosystem, Botswana has deltas, rivers, grasslands, and savannas, making it a stronghold for a significant amount of diverse wildlife. One of the few remaining endangered African wild dog populations and the biggest population of African elephants on the planet both find sanctuary in Botswana. The famous Chobe National Park features four ecosystems with the most abundant wildlife concentration in all of Africa.

The Challenge Today

The stronghold for Africa’s elephants is under threat.

The African continent is facing a poaching crisis that is rapidly decimating iconic species, including elephants.

Escalating poaching is fueled by demand for ivory and ivory products, and as many as 35,000 elephants are slaughtered each year to feed the demand.

With over 130,000 elephants living within its boundaries, Botswana is home of the world’s largest elephant population, and one of the last strongholds for African elephants as poaching continues to decimate populations.

As the poaching crisis continues unabated, Botswana’s airports and border crossings have also been identified as a major hub for wildlife traffickers to export their bloody contraband to markets.

Meeting the Challenge

Our solutions to protecting Botswana's unique biodiversity:

Highly trained canine heroes fight the illegal wildlife trade.

African Wildlife Foundation’s Canines for Conservation program is a proven deterrent to the ruthless illegal wildlife trade.

These trained canines and their handlers increase security at mass transit sites, disrupting global wildlife trade supply chains and ultimately reducing the poaching of elephants and other threatened species.

AWF is deploying newly trained handlers and canines to Botswana’s major trafficking hubs to protect the country’s ports and its precious elephant populations.