FILE - In this June 7, 2017, file photo, two wild elephants, part of a herd that arrived at a wetland near the Thakurkuchi railway station engage in a tussle on the outskirts of Gauhati, Assam, India. Development that’s led to loss of habitat, climate change, overfishing, pollution and invasive species is causing a biodiversity crisis, scientists say in a new United Nations science report released Monday, May 6, 2019. (AP Photo/ Anupam Nath, File)

Botswana lifts ban on elephant hunting, to some anger

The southern African nation is home to an estimated 130,000 elephants

Botswana has lifted its ban on elephant hunting in a country with the world’s highest number of the animals, a decision that has brought anger from some wildlife protection groups and warnings of a blow to lucrative tourism.

The southern African nation is home to an estimated 130,000 elephants. The lifting of the ban raised concerns about a possible increase in illegal poaching of elephants for their tusks to supply the ivory trade.

“Expect mass culling next,” the CEO of WildlifeDirect, Paula Kahumbu, said in a post on Twitter, warning that the impact of Botswana’s decision will be felt across Africa.

Botswana has long been a refuge for elephants on a continent where tens of thousands have been killed over the years for their ivory, and the animals long have been a tourist draw. Some had warned of tourism boycotts if the ban was lifted, and even American talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres joined the protest.

“President Masisi, for every person who wants to kill elephants, there are millions who want them protected. We’re watching,” she tweeted after Botswana’s decision was announced.

Lifting the hunting ban comes amid growing conflicts between humans — particularly farmers — and elephants, the government’s statement said. It said hunting will resume “in an orderly and ethical manner” but does not say how it will be regulated.

The country, with a population of just over 2 million people, suffers some human-wildlife conflict but has more space than many other countries for animals to roam.

“Co-existence between wild animals and communities is the only way that wildlife populations will survive,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. “What a shame that Botswana, previously hailed as a shining example of wildlife conservation and a safe haven for elephants, has opted to become a promoter of trophy hunting.”

Political friction between Botswana’s previous and current president has played a key part in the government’s shifting stance on elephants in the past year.

The hunting ban was put in place under previous president, Ian Khama, an outspoken conservationist, but current President Mokgweeti Masisi began to look into it not long after taking office last year.

The decision to lift the ban comes months ahead of general elections in October.

Khama “says Masisi is just currying favour with the electorate whom he will meet for the first time in October, in an election expected to be extremely close-fought, especially as Khama has backed his opposition,” the Institute for Security Studies wrote earlier this month.

Safari Club International, a U.S.-based group that lobbies to loosen restrictions on trophy hunting worldwide, cheered Botswana’s decision. The group has long argued that the fees paid by big-game hunters provide essential revenue for African governments to fund conservation programs.

“It is heartening to see that the government of Botswana has taken all aspects into its careful consideration of this matter,” said Paul Babaz, SCI’s president. “These findings clearly show that hunting bans actually hurt wildlife conservation.”

Though President Donald Trump has decried big-game hunting as a “horror show,” his administration has reversed Obama-era restrictions on the importation of elephant and lion trophies for personal use or display.

Botswana also is among several African countries with some of the world’s largest elephant populations that have pushed for looser controls on legal ivory trade . They assert that the commerce will help them pay to conserve elephants, while critics assert that even limited trade fuels demand and drives up illegal killing.

Botswana and neighbouring Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa are estimated to have about 256,000 elephants, or more than half of the total estimate for Africa.

Earlier this month Botswana’s president raised some eyebrows when he gave stools made of elephants’ feet to regional leaders while hosting a meeting on the animals’ fate.

Cara Anna, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

Weekly RCMP update: Bike thefts and persistent driving while prohibited

Campbell River RCMP detachment seeing bicycle theft as an ongoing concern

Over 21 Campbell River tourism businesses benefit from resiliency program

Vancouver Island Tourism Resiliency Program is helping businesses pivot and adapt to the COVID-19 imposed changes in industry

NIC online marine training accessed by mariners across the country

NIC was among the first post-secondary schools to receive approval for digital marine courses

Search for missing hiker suspended once again

Search for Laurence Philippsen was revived over the weekend after new information was received

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

Feds fund safe drug supply pilot program for Cowichan

The opioid overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health crises

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Thousands of dollars in stolen rice found in B.C. warehouse

Police raid seizes $75,000 in ‘commercial scale’ theft case

Most Read