Botswana is home to an estimated 130,000 elephants. The country is also a lead member of the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI), formed to control ivory trafficking. A blanket hunting ban (including elephant hunting) was introduced in 2014 by then-president Ian Khama, a keen environmentalist, to reverse a decline in the population of wild animals.
But after 5 years, Elephant hunting has recently resumed. Authorities planning to issue nearly 160 hunting licenses in coming weeks.
72 licenses will be given to non-citizens and will be awarded through a bidding process for next year’s hunting season, expected to begin in April. Another 86 licenses have been reserved for locals, and are being awarded through a nationwide raffle system. About 5,990 locals jostling for just eight elephant hunting licenses reserved for Maun, a wildlife zone in the northwestern.
The government has said the licenses are not transferable, but an anonymity who is the raffle winner said this made them less attractive. “It would have been ideal if the hunting licenses were transferable so that as a local, I can sell it to an international hunter to raise money,” said the license holder. “As it stands, the benefit is the meat and keeping the trophy.”
Locals have to pay about $800 for the license, and hunters will be accompanied by wildlife officers for the hunt. The trophy, including the tusks, cannot be exported and should be kept by the license holder.
Although the high interest in hunting licenses, a Maun resident, Boniface Keakabetswe said the fee was too steep for rural communities. “There were raising concerns about the license price that is paid once people have won the elephant (licenses),” Keakabetswe said. “It is around P8,000 and they were saying that many people who are living in communities, who are part of the people who have applied for these licenses, are poor and many of them cannot afford the P8,000.”
A farmer, Davidson Mapetla from Gobajango in eastern Botswana said the allocation of hunting licenses was not balanced. “It is a pity that there are only areas that have been identified for hunting,” Mapetla said. “The hunting licenses that have been issued, I want to tell you, it is not going to help us here. The only thing that we are going to have here is another death, another destruction of crops.”
Botswana’s minister of environment and natural resources, Kitso Mokaila said the hunting season will start off “slowly and cautiously.”
He says quotas were allocated in areas where there is increased conflict between humans and wildlife.
The first session of the hunting season runs between September and November.