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.

Just Posted

County of Paintearth adopts employee discipline policy

The new policy outlines a standard procedure for administration to follow

AMBER ALERT: Alert cancelled after child located safe and unharmed

Alert cancelled after child located safe and unharmed

Camp Teckla develops skills for kids and youth

Stettler’s popular basketball camp ready to hit the court

Annual Castor competition draws shooters from around the province

The 32nd Castor Trap Club Trophy Shoot ran June 14th to 16th

County Council receives update on Designated Industrial Properties

Today, the 886 properties in the County barely account for $200 million

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Calgary man facing charges after B.C. police service dog aids in arrest

Heavy police presence results in PSD Jagger finding suspect

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Wildfires have forced more than 9,000 people from homes in northern Alberta

People in other communities remain on evacuation alert and could be told to leave quickly

Pride divided: Edmonton leadership under pressure as LGBTQ community looks to future

Most of the conflict can be traced back to 2016 Toronto Pride when Black Lives Matter staged a protest

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

Statistics Canada reports annual pace of inflation rises in May to 2.4%

Transportation prices gained 3.1 per cent as the cost of air transportation added 8.9 per cent

Most Read