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Botswana lifts a ban on hunting elephants

He set the nation in South Africa, home to 130,000 elephants – more than anywhere else on the continent – the ban in 2014 to help reduce numbers recovering from trampling and shrink habitats.

Late on Wednesday, the Botswana government abolished the ban, preventing criticism from some environmental groups and conservationists. He referred to increasing conflict between humans and elephants, as well as the need to weigh up conservation efforts.

"Conservation is our DNA. We have never been reckless. Our responsibility to conservation has not changed, but our responsibility to the people has not changed so well," said Kitso Mokaila, environment minister t , wildlife and tourism at a conference to press on Thursday in the capital, Gaborone. He maintained that the ban had always been temporary.

Earlier this year, a cabinet group in Motswana recommended the elimination of elephants and a factory to enable elephant meat. The proposals drew a big attraction.

"That was a balloon trial, clearly," said Derick Joubert, a well-known conservationist and filmmaker, adding: "This was always going to be about hunting."

Scores of people killed or injured by elephants each year are in Botswana as people encroach on wild places. But many conservationists and wildlife groups, some of whom did not want to record, said they suspected hunting will help.

"If it's about conflict between the community and wildlife, there are dozens and dozens of options that can be used before one evicts the guns," Joubert told CNN. "Many people would be willing to raise lots of money and ideas to help communities before we turn to killing animals."

Moral choice

The African elephant is considered vulnerable on the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) Red List. The first Major Elephant Census, a pan-African survey carried out in 2016, revealed that elephant numbers, within seven years between 2007 and 2014, fell by at least 30%, or 144,000.

But hunting for a big game, including elephants, is common practice in the neighboring countries of southern Africa. The governments of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa claim that well-managed hunting can help keep the herds by channeling profits into conservation, and protecting ecosystems from the destructive power of large elephant populations.

There is an ongoing debate about the actual value of hunting licenses compared to tourism dollars. The Botswanan government said it would give up to 400 licenses each year to shoot elephants.

Tourism generally generates much more jobs and revenue than hunting, according to photographic safari operators and ex-hunters.

Many scientists and conservationists also feel that the protection of elephants is a moral imperative.

Botswana mugs turn elephants into pet food and lift a ban on hunting

"Our issue is truly unequivocal, what equates to shooting dogs, cats, whales or big apes," said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants.

Multiple studies show that elephants are very intelligent creatures, aware of what is happening in their environment, and express fear and stress when other members of the world are species were killed.

"Hunting is an old fashioned practice that has no place in the modern world," said Kenya Kahumbu, wildlife wildlife conservator, told CNN.

Hunters prefer the biggest bulls, with the largest bunches.

This can divert sex distribution and affect elephant ecology, throwing out the strongest and most knowledgeable species out of the gene pool.

But the same experts say, with proper control, hunting will not only drive the species to extinction. Douglas-Hamilton told CNN that if the practice is properly managed, the overall numbers of elephants are not affected.

However, poaching could eliminate populations. And in some parts of the continent, it already has.

Slippery slope?

Currently, ivory sales have been banned by international agreement on trading in endangered species.

But Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with the support of South Africa, are making a new appeal to lift restrictions on the sale of raw ivory.

Those countries account for more than half of the world's elephants and they have millions of piles of dollars that they could sell and plow back into conservation.

Some weeks ago, as they discussed lobbying against the ivory ban at a summit in Motswana, the government presented elephant foot stools accommodation to the guest leaders.

It was a strange gift for a country trying to push its conservation qualifications.

Regional leaders received the gifts at a summit on May 6 in Kasane

But he also suggested a change under President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who has taken a very different stance on conservation and hunting than his predecessor.

Kahumbu and Douglas-Hamilton said they feared that the decision on hunting was a step towards opening the ivory trade – something that concerns widely on his poaching drive, and eventually, t extinction.

Spike is poaching

And poaching is already on the increase in the country after considering a wildlife haven model.

In September last year Elephants Without Borders released the highly regarded conservation group which showed an unprecedented increase; in poaching elephants.

Nearly 90 elephant carcasses were discovered during a survey of the air in the north of the country, compared with nine during the previous region's audit in 2014, which it found.

The study was largely funded by the Botswana Wildlife and National Parks Department. But the government criticized the report's methodology, claiming that it actually showed that elephant numbers were stable.

Environment minister Mokaila said Botswana was being penalized and unfairly criticized for their strong wildlife management. And they have hired a New York PR company to help make their case.

"Why are we being punished for our success in conservation. And why are we still being punished for finding solutions?" he asked.

Chandler contributed Thornton CNN in Atlanta to this report.

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