Public Diplomacy Section
U.S. Embassy, Gaborone, Botswana
November 1, 2023
Gaborone: The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), has awarded a $2.6 million grant to Virginia Tech and the Kasane-based NGO, Centre for African Resources: Animals, Communities and Land Use (CARACAL) that will establish a new Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in Kasane. The Wildlife Forensic Laboratory will collect, store, and analyze evidence to support wildlife trafficking cases, with interagency law enforcement support throughout Botswana.
The new laboratory was launched October 31 at a groundbreaking ceremony in Kasane, attended by His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, U.S. Ambassador Howard Van Vranken, and Virginia Tech President Dr. Timothy Sands.
INL plays an important role in the fight against the illicit trade of wildlife by building criminal justice sector capacity in partner nations along the entire supply chain. Wildlife trafficking generates billions of dollars in illicit revenue each year, undermines security, threatens the rule of law, spreads diseases, and destabilizes communities. This center will help Botswana strengthen its forensic science capabilities to better investigate and prosecute wildlife crimes and serve as a center for excellence in Southern Africa.
Virginia Tech is one of the leading land-grant universities in the United States and among the top 6 percent of universities in the U.S. for research expenditures. Dr. Kathleen Alexander, a professor of wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech, co-founded CARACAL in 2001. The nonprofit, located at the edge of Chobe National Park, aims to promote conservation efforts in the region while improving the livelihoods of people through outreach and education efforts.
The U.S. government works closely with the Government of Botswana and civil society to protect Botswana’s valuable natural resources, including its wildlife and endangered ecosystems.
“Sustainable management of Botswana’s natural resources is not only a critical conservation goal but is also vital for Botswana’s long-term economic health and supporting the livelihoods of so many Batswana,” said Ambassador Howard Van Vranken.