Could Botswana lift the ban on tro­phy hunt­ing?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild News -

Botswana has a prob­lem with ele­phants – it’s got too many. The Great Ele­phant Cen­sus in 2016 es­ti­mated the pop­u­la­tion at 130,000, up to one third of the num­ber on the con­ti­nent, and now the coun­try’s politi­cians say it’s time to act.

In June, Botswana’s MPs passed a mo­tion call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to over­turn the ban on the hunt­ing of ele­phants out­side pro­tected ar­eas in or­der to re­duce crop-raid­ing.

Sam­son Guma, who rep­re­sents a con­stituency on the Botswana- Zim­babwe bor­der, said farm­ers in his re­gion had strug­gled for years with ele­phants in­vad­ing their land and de­stroy­ing their crops.

Mark Jones, for the Bri­tish-based con­ser­va­tion char­ity Born Free, says a blan­ket hunt­ing ban for all species was in­tro­duced in Botswana in 2014 and it may have led to a loss of in­come and meat to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

But he adds: “Sport hunt­ing can’t con­trib­ute to ele­phant pop­u­la­tion man­age­ment and isn’t an ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse to hu­man-ele­phant con­flict. While it may pro­vide some in­come for lo­cal peo­ple, the stud­ies I’ve seen sug­gests very lit­tle rev­enue fil­ters down to them.” There is also some con­cern that re­vers­ing the ban could lead to Botswana sup­port­ing the le­gal­i­sa­tion of the in­ter­na­tional ivory trade. A con­sul­ta­tion process be­gan in Au­gust. JF

FIND OUT MORE The Great Ele­phant Cen­sus: greatele­phant­cen­

Over­turn­ing the ban on ele­phant hunt­ing in Botswana will court con­tro­versy.

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