Cabinet ministers in Botswana have recommended that the hunting ban against elephants is lifted, and an introduction of culling, including the “establishment of elephant meat canning” for pet food.
There are estimated to be 130,000 elephants in Botswana, and after public meetings and consultations, the government report argues that this number is too high, and that a cull would improve the ecosystem.
But others say the country’s tourism has grown dramatically since the ban came into place and that lifting it would affect the country’s international reputation for conservation.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi asked ministers to assess the ban that has been in place for four years shortly after coming into power in 2018. Public meetings were held and organisations, communities and individuals were asked to comment.
The report’s finding recommend that:
- the hunting ban should be lifted
- the elephant population should be managed “within its historic range”
- wildlife migratory routes “not beneficial to the country’s conservation efforts” should be closed
- game ranches be demarcated to “serve as buffers between communal and wildlife areas”
- “regular but limited elephant culling” should be introduced
President Masisi is said to have welcomed the report, but has conceded it will go through further consultation before being implemented.
“I can promise you and the nation that we will consider it. A white paper will follow and it will be shared with the public. If needs be, we will give an opportunity to parliament to also interrogate it, and also allow them the space to intervene before we make a final determination.”