DATE: May 25, 2019
SNIP: Botswana reopens hunting. The government announced yesterday they are “lifting the hunting suspension in an orderly and ethical manner”. A decision that seemed inevitable, but nevertheless is an enormous blow for Botswana’s tourism and conservation reputation.
Since President Masisi’s announcement last year proposing lifting the hunting ban, this whole process has been a well-orchestrated election campaign, casting hunting as the solution to Human Elephant Conflict, rural poverty and elephant population control.
The main justification for lifting the hunting ban has been the supposedly increasing levels of Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) , particularly involving elephants. There is no doubt that HWC is a real problem to the people living with wildlife on a day to day basis and this indeed needs to be addressed.
However, there is no research-based evidence that suggests HWC is actually increasing. Furthermore, trophy hunting can never and should never have a such an impact on elephant or other wildlife densities that it would actually reduce HWC. Sensational media articles have only served to inflame a volatile situation.
The government is now not only talking about lifting the ban on elephant hunting, but also predators, as the government claims predator numbers are also increasing.
Again, there is no scientific evidence to back up any of these statements. Many areas in Botswana are still trying to recover from overhunting in the 1980-90s, particularly of the lion population. The mature elephant bulls that would be of interest to the trophy hunter are under siege from increased poaching with recent surveys indicating a material drop in numbers of bulls.