Botswana’s controversial return to trophy hunting will not solve its alleged rise in incidents of human/elephant conflict – and could well harm its standing as a key tourist destination in Africa.
As the country’s Government today (7 February) auctions off seven hunting packages of 10 elephants each, our Executive Director Mary Rice warned it was conflating the issues of hunting and human/elephant conflict.
“The reintroduction of hunting appears to have been a political move by President Mokgweetsi Masisi to garner support from rural communities and is a major U-turn on the stance of his predecessor, Ian Khama, who was internationally praised for Botswana’s conservation-focused wildlife policies.
“Coincidentally, President Masisi has been chosen to receive an award from Safari Club International as ‘Legislator of the Year’.”
Rice added: “There has also been a misleading narrative that the reintroduction of professional hunting will mitigate human/elephant conflict but there is limited hard evidence or data to support these claims.
“Conflating these two issues appears to have been done to justify the reintroduction of hunting but the reality on the ground strongly suggests hunting will make very little, if any, impact on human/elephant conflict.
“Human/elephant conflict in Botswana is clearly a serious problem that needs to be dealt with in a strategic, countrywide manner, employing a range of mitigating measures. There are many other proven methods for mitigating conflict and hopefully the revenue generated by the auction, which reportedly brought in more than $2 million, will be ploughed into funding these measures.”
An important workshop is due to be held in Botswana next month to discuss the issue of human/elephant conflict.