Botswana may lift a five-year-old ban on big game hunting, which could allow tourists to shoot down elephants.
Ministers in the country — which is home to about 130,000 elephants, a third of all of Africa's — are widely quoted as saying that "regular but limited" hunting should be made legal in order to avoid what they have described as a "growing conflict" between wildlife and humans.
The ministers say that a boom in elephant births has been caused by the 2014 ban, which has in turn allowed an influx of the gentle giants into traditionally elephant-free areas, causing frustration among locals.
"We recommend a legal framework that will enable the growth of a safari hunting industry and manage the country's elephant population within the historic range," government minister Frans Van Der Westhuizen, who has chaired a cabinet committee on the issue, is widely quoted as saying.
The issue is likely to anger environmentalists, among whom Botswana is seen as a centrepiece of international conservation efforts. Moreover, the announcement is likely to cause rumbles in the tourism industry, which has profited greatly from the increase in elephant numbers.
In a public announcement on the policy, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who only came into office last April declared, "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."
According to statistics from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, over the past decade the total number of elephants in Africa has dropped by around 111,000 to 415,000.
Maybe we should just slaughter all elephants and rhinos and send the horns n tusks to China and get done with this torture once and for all. Clearly many countries don't deserve the wildlife heritage they've been mistakenly blessed with.— Kerr Owino (@PharaohMenya) 22 February 2019
Most of these elephants are originally from neighbouring countries anyway
They fled to Botswana during wars of liberation in the 80s— Leo Maine (@maine_leo) 22 February 2019
Africans must come and get their elephants back otherwise we will be forced to cull them
If there’s overpopulation then export them to other regions and it’s a win/win for the elephants and the humans.— Ian MacGregor (@macgregor63) February 22, 2019
It won't…culling (some not all if I have to explain)— thibini (@thibini2) February 22, 2019