Botswana Sells 60 Elephant Shoot Permits To Trophy Hunters
Despite Africa’s elephant population plummeting in recent years, Botswana has sold 60 elephant hunting permits.
Botswana auctioned off the hunts for 60 elephants for 25.7m Botswanan pula – £1.8m, or more than £30,200 each.
Following the auction, conservationists have warned that it could be a ‘major global conservation disaster’.
The ban on hunting the mammals – which had been in place since 2014 – was lifted last year, with the reason being to ease increasing human-elephant conflict.
According to the BBC, seven packages of 10 elephants each were sold at the auction in the capital Gaborone on Friday, February 7.
Only companies registered in Botswana were allowed to bid for the licences. Bidders put down a refundable deposit of 200,000 pula ($18,000/£14,000).
Apparently the government has issued a quota for the killing of 272 elephants in 2020.
One organisation that’s not happy about the Botswana Government’s decision is the EMS Foundation, which says its government ‘does not care’.
A statement on its website reads:
The Botswana government has demonstrated to the world that it does not care that elephants play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecological systems, nor does it seem to understand that killing off prime elephant bulls undermines the very basis of its successful ecotourism economy.
The Botswana communities are extremely dissatisfied at the process in which these elephant hunts are being marketed. There was meant to be a tendering process rather than an auction but clearly there is no governance capacity.
The qualifying criteria explicitly excludes tourism operators or Foundations, such as ourselves that do not necessarily want to hunt elephants but do desire to fund non-consumptive conservation in Botswana.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Africa’s elephant population has plummeted by more than two-thirds in 40 years from 1.3 million in 1979 to 415,000 in 2015. Poaching is the leading cause of the decline.
Botswana has the world’s biggest population of elephants – almost one-third of Africa’s total elephant population – and their numbers have increased since the 1990s. As humans have expanded their farmlands, elephants have eaten their crops, which is the source of human-elephant conflict.
Some environmentalists, however, are worried licensed hunting could encourage more illegal poaching.
Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said to The Independent:
Trophy hunting is artificial selection. By targeting the biggest and strongest animals, it leaves the weaker, smaller animals behind. This means the best genes are being lost, so the species will be less able to adapt to accelerating climate change, it will be more prone to disease, and the risk of extinction is greater.
It’s reported that an estimated 100 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts, so why encourage even more killings? Surely there’s another way the human-elephant conflict can be tackled…
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