BOTSWANA HAS lifted a ban on elephant hunting, citing high levels of human-elephant conflict and the increasing impact on farmers as key reasons for the decision.
The country, which is home to the largest population of the animals in Africa, around 130,000, reversed the 2014 ban yesterday.
Elephants roam open spaces in the country and are known to trample farmers’ fields and kill people.
In a statement, the ministry of environment, natural resources conservation and tourism, said: “Since its imposition, the hunting suspension has become a topical subject in the country.”
High levels of human-elephant conflict, the increasing impact of the elephant population on livelihoods, the lack of capacity within the department of wildlife and national parks to respond quickly to animal control issues and a general consensus that the ban should be lifted were among the key findings of the sub committee on hunting ban and social dialogue.
A press conference will be held today where the government is expected to share further details of the suspension of the ban.
“The ministry would like to reiterate that it will work with all stakeholders to ensure that reinstatement of hunting is done in an orderly and ethical manner, and in accordance with the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act and the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks (Hunting and Licensing) Regulations,” the government said.
The decision has prompted criticism from conservationists and animal lovers. Some believe it is politically motivated as it is likely to be favoured by rural voters ahead of the upcoming election.
US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, tweeted Mokgweetsi E.K Masisi, the president of Botswana about the issue.
“President Masisi, for every person who wants to kill elephants, there are millions who want them protected. We’re watching. #BeKindToElephants,” she wrote.
Others have hit back at outsiders raising concerns over the move and slammed DeGeneres for her intervention.
One commenter tweeted: “Botswana is truly a victim of its conservation success and commendable record. People like @yashar and @TheEllenShow are only interested in the narrative that suits their skewed worldview of Africans.”
Another said: “@TheEllenShow and all these people talking about Botswana’s elephants need to stop speaking about things they know nothing about. Unless you’re in Botswana witnessing the state of human-animal conflict, take several seats. If you’re that pressed take several elephants.”
“They think they can care about our wildlife #Elephants more than we do. Botswana is and will continue to be a safe haven for the SOUTHERN AFRICAN elephants, as it has always been, before and after hunting ban. The West needs understand that we are know our story more than they,” tweeted another supporter of the government’s decision.
Earlier this month it was revealed that Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia plan to launch a new appeal for Cites, the multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals, to lift the ban on the raw ivory trade.