Elephants may be walking the path toward extinction, but they will once again be legal to hunt in the African country of Botswana. According to a statement made by the government, the 5-year hunting ban has officially been lifted.
MEDIA INVITATION- PRESS CONFERENCE- LIFTING OF THE HUNTING SUSPENSION IN BOTSWANAThe Ministry of Environment, Natural…
The Botswanan government claims that the ban on elephant hunting (which passed in 2014) has resulted in an increase in human-animal conflict. Over the past five years, elephant numbers have increased in some areas. So has their range, primarily due to an expansion in agricultural land and climate change-induced drought resulting in habitat loss.
If a herd of elephants wanders too close to a village, they can destroy an entire season’s crops within a single day. The aftermath affects the livelihoods of entire communities. For this reason, many villagers have adopted the attitude that the Department of Wildlife and National Parks hasn’t done enough to ward away or control destructive elephants.
“Sharing their lives with a five-ton animal that threatens their lives, destroys their crops, damages their properties – I share their anguish,” Mike Chase, director of Elephants Without Borders, told National Geographic in February. “But you have to weigh that up and consider the international backlash [of lifting the ban]… and how that may undermine our economy, our jobs, and our reputation for being at the forefront of conservation.”
The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said in the statement that it would ensure the “reinstatement of hunting is done in an orderly and ethical manner” and in accordance with the law and regulations. The government added that while hunting would not meaningfully reduce the number of elephants, income from the “sport” could benefit local communities.
The government also cited increased population numbers as reason for lifting the ban. However, this is heavily debated. Environment Minister Kitso Mokailia estimates that there are 160,000 elephants in Botswana. The government suggests that number is up to 230,000. Scientists and conservationists, however, believe the number is closer to 130,000.
There have been suggestions that the move was politically motivated to gather voters from villagers who share habitats with elephants. General elections are in October — just around the corner. Furthermore, since June 2018, a committee under President Mokgweetsi Masisi has been reconsidering the suspension. In February, he recommended the ban be lifted,
Botswana is home to the world’s largest elephant population. Furthermore, it holds one-third of all elephants in Africa. In neighboring countries, the cost to legally hunt an elephant is $45,000, according to Bloomberg. Will humans idly sit by as the last of Earth’s wild elephant population are poached for profit? Comment your thoughts below.
IMAGE CREDIT: Maria Itina