Elephants Reduced to a Political Football as Botswana Brings Back Hunting

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Elephants Reduced to a Political Football as Botswana Brings Back Hunting

Botswana has reinstated trophy hunting after a 5-year moratorium on the practice.

In the wake of evidently declining wildlife numbers, former president Ian Khama imposed the ban in early 2014. Elephant numbers had plummeted by 15% in the preceding decade. The hunting industry had been granted a total quota of between 420 and 800 elephants a year during that time. Evidence of abuse was prolific and communities were not benefiting from the fees that hunters were paying.

Over the past five years Botswana has earned a reputation as the continent’s last elephant haven. It harbours just over a third of Africa’s remaining savanna elephants.

Khama’s successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi, has been in the job for just over a year. He’s promoted a conservation doctrine that is diametrically opposed to Khama’s.

Masisi recently hosted a conference in Kasane that brought together heads of state and environment ministers from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Its pretext was to formulate a common vision for managing southern Africa’s elephants under the banner of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). But the conference was used to drum up support for Botswana’s intended reversion to elephant hunting.