After five years, hunting will now be allowed in Botswana, home to about a third of Africa’s savanna elephants. Botswana has scrapped its ban on hunting, citing an increase in conflicts between elephants and humans during the five years the rule was in place. The southern African nation, which is home to 130,000 elephants or around one-third of the continent’s population imposed the ban in 2014 to deter poaching.
But while the elephants are popular with wildlife-loving tourists, locals have complained that they damage crops and affect livelihoods.
“Predators appear to have increased and were causing a lot of damage as they kill livestock in large numbers,” the environment ministry statement said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
The African elephant which is classified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List is increasingly coming into contact with humans as its natural habitat shrinks. That has led to elephants raiding crops, killing livestock, destroying water supplies and sometimes even injuring and killing people, according to the IUCN.
More confusion over the fate of Botswana's elephants | eTurboNews
In June last year, Botswana set up a cabinet sub-committee to review the ban on hunting. Local authorities, affected communities, NGOs, tourism operators and conservationists were consulted, the ministry said in its post.
While hunting elephants is now legal in Botswana, American sport hunters may not rush there because it’s unlikely they’d be able to bring their trophies home. In 2017, a controversy erupted after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to lift the ban on elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia. After President Donald Trump tweeted his dissatisfaction with the decision, the Fish and Wildlife Service reversed course and decided to evaluate all applications to import elephant trophies from all countries on a case-by-case basis. Since then, no permits have been issued.
Botswana lifts ban on elephant hunting | Al Jazeera
Earlier this year, ministers in Botswana recommended lifting the ban and allowing the canning of elephant meat for pet food. But conservationists have warned that the species could become extinct if it’s not protected.
Before European colonization, scientists believe Africa may have held as many as 20 million elephants. By 1979 only 1.3 million remained. The first Great Elephant Census, a pan-African survey conducted in 2016, revealed that in just seven years between 2007 and 2014 elephant numbers plummeted by at least 30%, or 144,000. The hunt is on!