Botswana, the country with the largest elephant population in Africa, estimated at about 160,000 or even more, has lifted its ban on elephant hunting.
This overturns a ban introduced in 2014 by then-president Ian Khama, a keen environmentalist. Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, Botswana's minister of environment, said Wednesday the aim was to "manage" rather than reduce elephant numbers, of no more than a few hundred per year. He said the four year blanket suspension on elephant hunting had led to an increase in human-elephant conflict and adversely affected rural communities. Elephants can kill people. Advocates for limited trophy hunting say that it can generate income for communities, which could in turn support conservation efforts. On the other part, conservationists blamed this decision.
Dan Bucknell, the executive director of Tusk, the Duke of Cambridge's conservation charity, called the move "sad and disappointing." “The whole world is turning away from hunting. It is increasingly seen as an archaic practice. This is very, very damaging to the image of Botswana as a global leader in elephant conservation,” said Dr Paula Kahumbu, an expert and activist based in Kenya. Even a political approach to obtain rural votes for the ruling Botswana Democratic party (BDP)is suspected, in the run-up to elections in October. Botswana is a founder member of the Elephant Protection Initiative, a group of African countries that have agreed to ban the ivory trade. Botswana is a luxury safari destination. Celebrities like the talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and the actress Kristin Davis have called for a boycott of tourism to Botswana unless the hunting ban was maintained. Many of Botswana’s elephants roam across borders into Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.