Botswana Lifts Ban on Elephant Hunting
Botswana has lifted its ban on elephant hunting to the dismay of wildlife protection groups. This move threatens the lucrative tourism industry in the Southern African nation that is home to the largest number of elephant population on the continent: about 130,000.
Botswana has for a long time been a safe haven for the over-poached African elephants. Back in the early 20th century, there were between 3-5 million elephants. But there are now fewer than 500,000 of them remaining. The country has long been a refuge for elephants where tens of thousands are being poached every year. Concerns have been raised about the possible increase in illegal poaching of elephants for their tusks to supply the ivory trade. “Expect mass culling next,” warns Dr. Paula Kahumbu, the CEO of Wildlife Direct. Many have warned of tourism boycotts and even American talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has joined in the protests and tweeted, “President Masisi, for every person who wants to kill the elephants, there are millions who want them protected. We’re watching.”
Some people allege that the move may be political. President Mokgweetsi Masisi set up a committee in 2018 to investigate the ban which had been imposed by his predecessor. Early this year the committee recommended the lifting of the ban.“The number and high levels of human-elephant conflict and the consequent impact on the livelihoods were increasing,” the government said. It’s indeed very true that elephants can be destructive when they encroach into farmland and move into villages where they destroy crops and even cause human fatalities. However, studies have revealed that numbers have not been increasing as many rural dwellers suspect. This may make conservationist to conclude that the government made the decision with the intention of boosting their popularity among the rural voters ahead of the elections in October.
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