We know for a fact that hunting for a very long time has caused the extinction of a number of animals. Take Amur Leopards, for instance, hunted primarily for its magnificent fur which is subsequently sold for a heavy price in the international market. According to one estimate, this activity on a widespread scale has resulted in the population of Amur Leopards reduced to just 60m found in the Siberian region. For certain, hunting is the second biggest threat known to wildlife after habitat destruction. That being said, a piece of rather unfortunate news is out from Botswana. The government has finally lifted the ban on hunting of elephants which was imposed early in 2014.
It is vital to know that Botswana currently has the largest population of elephants in the world (about 130,000). The decision to uplift the ban is being attacked on both political and environmental grounds. But there are, however, all the more reasons to be worried about the problem!
Elephant hunting now legal in Botswana
Earlier in 2014, ex-president, Ian Khama had enforced a ban on hunting of elephants all across the country. The law was widely welcomed by conservationists and the wildlife protection organizations. It was considered to be a step in the right direction to conserve the population of one of the largest known mammals on earth.
However, incumbent president Mokgweetsi Masisi after extensively reviewing the findings of the committee decided to revoke the ban. Now accordingly, hunters would be allowed to hunt elephants in Botswana without any penalty whatsoever. As per president Masisi, the uplifting of the ban has come about as a result of widespread human-elephant conflicts that were observed. These conflicts had caused the lives of inhabitants to be at risk and also led to excessive damage to livestock. Elephants were known to enter the rural lands and killed the farmers’ livestock in great numbers.
The decision to uplift the ban will henceforth ensure that lives and earnings of the rural inhabitants aren’t affected.
What do opponents say?
Opponents of the decision taken by president Masisi have been refuted on various grounds. First and foremost, critics point towards the political nature of the decision to appease the rural inhabitants for electoral gains. The danger posed by the elephants, as described, is exaggerated. The cases of livestock being attacked or human lives being killed may be minimal. In other words, opponents argue the cost of uplifting the ban may actually outweigh the benefits.
What really needs to be understood is that elephants for a very long time have been hunted for economic gains. Particularly, the poor animal has been targeted for its ivory which is then traded in the international market. A large portion of the elephants’ population has simply disappeared for this very reason. People from nearby countries enter Botswana for hunting and leave after successfully poaching for ivory.
Having said that, dismissing the ban may, in fact, harm the number of existing elephants in Botswana. We know that giraffes are a new addition to the list of endangered species. Moving away from the continent, in Indonesia, the orangutans may soon cease to exist. If the ban on hunting isn’t enforced again, elephants may unfortunately soon witness the same fate.