Botswana is considering lifting a ban on elephant hunting to curb human-wildlife conflict from increased population.
A Cabinet committee, led by the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Francs van der Westhuizen, on Thursday presented its recommendations to President Mokgweetsi Masisi calling for the “lifting of the ban, the development of a legal framework that will create an enabling environment of the safari hunting industry, as well as managing the elephant population within its historic range.”
It also proposed regular but limited culling of elephants “...and (the) establishment of elephant meat canning, including production of pet food and processing into other products.”
Botswana imposed the ban in January 2014 during President Ian Khama's tenure with the government then arguing it was a necessary measure to protect wildlife population.
The decision sparked a public outcry among communities dependent on income from trophy hunting licences.
However, in June last year, President Masisi appointed a committee to review the prohibition, promising to take the recommendations into consideration.
Communities bordering parks and sanctuaries have in the recent past complained about wildlife encroaching their villages.
“If need be, we will give an opportunity to parliament to also interrogate it and allow them space to intervene, before we make a final determination,” President Masisi said on Thursday after receiving the report.
Botswana is likely to face criticism from animal-rights activists and conservationists should it lift the ban on big-game hunting.
Elephants Without Borders (EWB) argues that elephant population is decreasing across Africa and the lifting of the ban could dent Botswana’s tourism.
The country has the world’s largest elephant population with over 130,000 of the pachyderms, according to the Great Elephant Census.
Last year, the Masisi’s administration came under fire after the media reported that nearly 100 elephants had been killed for ivory following a decision to disarm rangers.
But the government refuted the reports and organised a media tour to the affected areas.