Elephant hunting ban lifted in Botswana

23 May 2019, 10:32 | Updated: 23 May 2019, 12:27

A ban on big game hunting has been lifted in Botswana amid claims elephant numbers are affecting small-scale farmers' livelihoods.

Botswana is home to about one third of Africa's elephants and officials say there is growing conflict between humans and wildlife.

The Environment Ministry said in a statement: "The government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension.

"The ministry would like to reiterate that it will work with all stakeholders to ensure that reinstatement of hunting is done in an orderly and ethical manner."

Conservationists put the number of elephants in Botswana at about 130,000, but authorities claim there are more and say it causes problems for some farmers.

The ban was lifted on Wednesday, with the government organising a news conference for Thursday to explain their decision.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi set up a committee last year to discuss whether to maintain the ban, which was brought in by former president Ian Khama in 2014.

In February, it recommended that the government consider lifting the ban. It recommended a "legal framework that will enable the growth of a safari hunting industry and manage the country's elephant population within the historic range".

It called for "regular but limited" elephant culling.

The ban being lifted has split opinion. In September, conservationists claimed they had found 87 elephants slaughtered in the last few months in Kasane.

But one Botswana resident tweeted: "People who roam freely in their streets are busy criticising the president 's decision while the rest of us are here in villages fearing for our lives, we can't step out of our homes freely. Botswana is a country not a zoo.

"It is easy to have an opinion when you're not the victim, these people have never an elephant attack that's is why they are calling them gentle giants."

But conservationists warn elephants could die out without regulation.