Botswana lift ban on hunting elephants in devastating decision
The government of Botswana has made the controversial choice to lift the national ban on elephant hunting, first introduced in 2014 by then-president Ian Khama, The Washington Post report.
The Botswana Democratic Party has justified the move by claiming that the local pachyderm population has recently increased, which has had a negative impact on farmers.
In a statement on Wednesday, Botswana’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said the committee determined that with the Khama's hunting suspension in place, "human-elephant conflict and the consequent impact on livelihoods was increasing."
President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who succeeded Khama in April of 2018, has vowed to ensure that elephant hunting is carried out in a responsible and ethical manner, but many environmentalist groups have been left incensed by this reversal.
Commenting on the new legislation, Audrey Delsink, director of Humane Society International, stated:
"This horrifying decision by Botswana to lift its ban on elephant hunting will send shock waves throughout the conservation world. There are around 415,000 wild elephants in the whole of Africa, where they are relentlessly persecuted by trophy hunters and poachers, and Botswana is home to one-third of those elephants who have sought refuge within its borders. This population is vital to the overall regional survival of this iconic species."
"Resuming elephant hunting is not only morally questionable and flies in the face of all international efforts to protect these giants, but it will also likely damage Botswana's hugely valuable tourism industry because visitors will be appalled at the idea that the very elephants they are photographing on eco-safaris could be gunned down by hunters the next day ... Elephants are worth far more to us all alive than dead.'"
Botswana has the largest population of African elephants on the continent, boasting more than 135,000 in its national parks. Experts claim that their population has tripled over the last three decades as a result of various conservationist movements.