Elephants at further risk of extinction after Botswana lifts hunting ban

Around 450,000 African elephants remain on the continent and populations continue to decline, and will only decline further because Botswana just lifted a ban on trophy hunting.

Up to now, Botswana had been the world’s last sanctuary for African elephants, hosting 130,000 of the magnificent creatures.

But the new government has decided to lift the ban on trophy hunting that the previous leader had established in 2014 and is now calling for lifting the ban on ivory sales.

“The number and high levels of human-elephant conflict and the consequent impact on livelihoods was increasing,” the government said in an announcement of its decision. “The general consensus from those consulted was that the hunting ban should be lifted.”

Elephants do cause damage to farms and do kill people at times, but the answer is not the systematic extermination of the species. Botswana needs to come up with real solutions to prevent encroachment and reduce unwanted contact between humans and elephants.

Botswana is also paying Hollywood firm 42 West to push back against all the bad publicity the decision has caused.

The firm will be paid $125,000 over the next two months — with the possibility of more work to come — for developing talking points and a communications plan that “articulates Botswana’s policy on elephant hunting” that will be delivered to “key U.S. and other Western audiences,” according to its filing.

The decision to legalize trophy hunting appears to be a political decision to attract rural voters ahead of elections in October. But it could also be driven by potential profit because wealthy hunters will pay big bucks to shoot one of the largest animals on the planet purely for sport.

This is a particularly threatening move because the elephant population has already declined by nearly one-third between 2007 and 2014

African elephants also slowly reproduce. Females start reproducing after reaching 10 or 12 years of age and gestation lasts 22 months until a calf is born, with one being born every three to six years. So, we are literally killing elephants faster than they can reproduce.

Botswana claims they will make sure hunting is “ethical.”

Needless to say, Botswana has sparked a backlash in response to lifting the ban.

“The whole world is turning away from hunting,” Dr. Paula Kahumbu, an elephant expert and ecologist told The Guardian. It is increasingly seen as an archaic practice. This is very, very damaging to the image of Botswana as a global leader in elephant conservation.”

She later took to Twitter to voice her disgust.

Kahumbu suggests that Botswana remove elephants by transferring them to other places or by building electric fencing. Both strategies work well to prevent confrontations with humans.

Botswana’s decision comes on the heels of a new study that reveals humans are causing nature to shrink because larger animals are being wiped out, thus causing chaos within ecosystems.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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