The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Air Wing has lost an AS350B Ecureuil (Squirrel) helicopter in a crash during an anti-poaching mission.
According to BDF spokesperson Colonel Tebo Kacho Dikole, the helicopter crashed on takeoff near Mombo at Chiefs Island in the Moremi Game Reserve on the morning of 2 December.
“All five BDF members aboard the helicopter survived the accident and are currently receiving medical attention. Investigations pertaining to the cause of the crash are currently being conducted by the relevant aviation experts,” Dikole stated.
Local media report that Botswana has intensified patrols along its border areas in the wake of a surge in poaching activities, which in November saw the fatal shooting of five Namibian nationals during one encounter with the military.
The BDF operated eight AS 350B Ecureuil helicopters before the crash. It received nine AS350s from France between 1985 and 2003, but one crashed in 2014. The type is also operated by the Botswana Police Service.