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Botswana government unveils plan that recommends using elephant meat as pet food


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In a report presented to the Botswanan President last Thursday, the country’s government has suggested lifting an elephant hunting ban in order to manage the national elephant population.

Image Credit: Chloe Connolly

According to The Telegraph, the report follows months of public meetings, consultations and pushes for, "regular but limited elephant culling" and advises that their meat could be used for pet food.

It also recommends the management of the elephant population “within its historic range”, the closure of wildlife migratory routes that are "not beneficial to the country's conservation efforts" and that game ranches be used to "serve as buffers between communal and wildlife areas".

According to a Twitter post by the Botswana Government, the country’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi said “he was looking forward to reading the report and promised to take its recommendations into consideration”.

Botswana is home to around 130,000 of the world’s largest land mammal – the largest elephant population on earth.

Image Credit: Chloe Connolly

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the African elephant is classed as a vulnerable species.

However, some Botswanan politicians believe that elephant numbers are uncontrollable, negatively affecting the ecosystem and putting small scale farmers’ lives and livelihoods at risk.

This is despite "a significant elephant-poaching problem" in Northern Botswana, which has killed dozens of elephants in recent months, according to the BBC.

Human-elephant conflict has emerged from the expanding distance that elephants travel. This distance has grown due to a number of factors, such as climate change and infrastructure development.

As space gets smaller the problem gets bigger. Two elephants pass through a crucial corridor in Assam India

Image Credit: Annette Bonnier from Geographical

When elephants wander onto farmland and near human settlements, they can be very destructive and have been known to kill people.

Allowing hunting once again will supposedly control elephant numbers and reduce any dangers associated with the species, as well as boosting tourism, according to the report.

Nevertheless, many do not support the proposed hunting ban, seeing that Botswana’s tourism has increased dramatically since it was introduced in January 2014. They also believe that “it would affect the country's international reputation for conservation”.

In response to Botswana Government’s Twitter post, one user commented: 

Another said: “Please keep the ban. Trophy hunting is cruel and NO sport. Be at the forefront and make an example. Show the world that you care about your precious wildlife and promote it to tourists.”

According to The Telegraph, Charlie Mayhew, the CEO of Tusk, which is the Duke of Cambridge's conservation charity, stated that the decision to review the 2014 hunting band is “a huge disappointment”.

On receiving the report, Masisi said that he would present it to the cabinet prior to making any decision, and that “a white paper will follow and it will be shared with the public”.

Read more about Elephants from The National Student

Lead Image: Chloe Connolly


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