BOTSWANA has auctioned six licences to hunt a total of 60 elephants, the first to be allowed in the southern African country since President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted a five-year ban on the hunting of big game in May 2019.
Although Africa’s overall elephant population is declining due to poaching, Botswana is home to almost a third of the continent’s elephants and officials say hunting is necessary to ease conflict between animals and humans. They cite that roaming elephants have destroyed farmers’ crops and infrastructure which lay outside of their feeding zones.
To support this notion, seven hunting packages, of 10 elephants each, were available for auction from Auctionit Botswana, with only one not being sold due to no bidder meeting the reserve price of 2 million pula ($181,000).
Alongside Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa, Botswana have recently reconsidered conservation laws to try and balance the need to protect sought-after species such as elephants, rhinos and buffalo from poaching whilst managing the danger they pose on areas of human habitation. However, environmentalists fear that licensed hunting could fuel their demand and subsequently increase illegal poaching.
The government of Botswana had previously set a quota for hunting a total of 272 animals by 2020 of which 202 would be destined for foreign hunters. They also stated that they would consider the possibility of exporting trophies such as ivory in the future – a move which activists condemned.