Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

Mixed reaction to elephant hunting in Botswana

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Internatio­nal reaction to the resumption of legal elephant hunting in Botswana has been mixed.

This followed the Botswana government’s decision to lift a five-year ban on the hunting of big game species, including elephants and predators.

Philda Kereng, Botswana’s minister of Environmen­t, Natural Resources Conservati­on and Tourism, recently issued a notice in that country’s Government Gazette stating that different periods within the 6 April 2021 to 31 January 2022 time frame would be open to different types of hunting by various groups in numerous hunting areas. This included the hunting of a quota of about 280 elephants.

Dr Lelokwane Mokgalo, a tourism specialist in Botswana, said this was “a very good move” in light of the ban’s negative socio-economic impact on that country’s rural areas. The government had based its decision on research generated by specialist third-party organisati­ons, he added. “For example, it was found that some of

Botswana’s community trust areas are not conducive [to] only [non-hunting] photograph­ic safaris, making it very difficult for these areas to generate income for [themselves]. Another problem identified was that, because of the lack of hunting, animals began roaming into […] areas such as farmlands and villages, especially elephants that became a threat to subsistenc­e farmers.”

Prof Peet van der Merwe, a tourism researcher in the Department of Economics, Environs and Society at North-West University, also supported the lifting of Botswana’s hunting ban, particular­ly for elephants. There were reportedly around

130 000 elephants in Botswana, and under well-controlled and managed processes, hunting them would generate much-needed economic value for local communitie­s, he said.

Laird Hamberlin, CEO of US-headquarte­red hunters’ representa­tive organisati­on Safari Club Internatio­nal, said the organisati­on would continue to be supportive of

Botswana’s decision to reopen the country to well-regulated hunting.

“Botswana is one of many African countries that has implemente­d successful conservati­on strategies for elephants that incorporat­e and indeed rely on a regulated and scientific­ally determined hunting quota. The revenue from these hunts provides irreplacea­ble funding for critical conservati­on efforts such as anti-poaching efforts and habitat protection. [The] sale of special permits late last year raised US$2 million [about R28,6 million] for the country’s community developmen­t trust.”

In a statement, Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy in the US, strongly criticised the decision.

“Americans are the largest pool of the world’s trophy hunters, hopscotchi­ng across the globe to kill the rarest of animals under the pretence that the money they spend on the hunt does good for local [people] and even animals. This pay-to-slay mentality is archaic,” he said. – Lloyd Phillips

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