After a five-year suspension, the government of Botswana decided that the moratorium on hunting elephants should be lifted, according to a statement issued on May 22 by the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resource Conservation and Tourism.
Botswana is globally known as the ‘land of the giants’ a safe refuge for the world’s largest elephant population. This has become a feature attraction to the thriving photographic ecotourism industry, a major employer and economic sector in northern Botswana.
Kitso Mokaila, the country’s environment minister has said that they will now auction licenses to hunting operators for the right to shoot elephants but is yet to decide on the minimum price, according to Bloomberg.
Botswana will allow the killing of 158 elephants in trophy hunts this year. There will also be a charge of 20,000 pula, or US$1,834, for each of the 72 elephant hunting licenses designated for foreigners.
Botswana, long seen as a conservation success story, has the largest elephant population in Africa, about one-third of the continent’s total. According to the 2018 Botswana Aerial Survey Report by Elephants Without Borders, the estimated population of elephants in Botswana in 2018 was 126 114.
A tourism and conservation expert who chose to remain anonymous says, "Whilst tourism revenues and occupancies soared because of the positive PR for Botswana that the hunting ban created, there were a few very remote outlying concession areas that remained vacant and unutilised. Those marginal areas are now about to be hunted by the Masisi Government. Yet the revenues earned from the 156 elephants that have been put out to tender will never adequately compensate for the loss of revenue from all the thousands of people that are booking their holidays elsewhere."