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Elephant in Botswana

Sourced from third-party site: AFP

Botswana initiated on Wednesday a month of public hearings to decide whether to lift the 2014 hunting ban, including elephant hunting. The review comes just days after the advocacy group, Elephants Without Borders, said that about 90 elephants were slaughtered in recent months for their tusks in Botswana. The government disputes the group’s claims, saying the report was exaggerated to thwart the review of the hunting ban.

The prohibition on big game sports hunting was the work of ex-president Ian Khama, a keen conservationist, to shield species decimated by hunting and habitat loss.

But lawmakers from the ruling Botswana Democratic party have been lobbying to overturn the ban, especially on elephant hunting. According to them, elephant populations have grown rapidly, with other elephants coming from neighbouring countries to seek refuge from poachers, prompting an increase in human deaths and declining incomes in farming communities.

Khama’s successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi will meet with researchers and will then address a kgotla (traditional gathering) on the issue. The report from the hearings will be submitted to cabinet next month.

With its unfenced parks and wide-open spaces, landlocked Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa, at over 135,000. The number of elephants on the continent has fallen by around 111,000 to 415,000 in the past decade, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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