- DWNP says Botswana is home to Africa’s largest elephant population
- 50 Batswana killed by elephants between 2010 and 2020
- DWNP’s capacity to tackle human-wildlife conflict is limited
In the midst of growing and often virulent criticism of lifting the hunting ban, the government has defended its decision to re-introduce trophy hunting after it was banned under Ian Khama as president.
Speaking at a press conference in Gaborone recently, the Director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Dr Kabelo Senyatso, said it was critical for Botswana to lift the moratorium of 2014 on all species under Schedule 7 of the Wildlife Act.
These animals include elephant, buffalo, leopard, zebra and large antelopes like eland and kudu. “There were high levels of elephant conflict that had a negative impact on livelihoods,” Dr Senyatso noted, adding that there were also frequent instances of predator conflict and loss of livestock.
While this was happening, the capacity of DWNP to effectively manage human-wildlife conflict was stretched beyond limit. Dr Senyatso said those who criticise Botswana are not alive to these challenges that are faced by ordinary Batswana who live in fear of these animals.
To underscore how the fear is present and real, he disclosed that nearly 50 Batswana were killed by elephants and 12 injured between 2010 and 2020. Dr Senyatso disclosed that 665 quotas were issued for trophy hunting 2019 to-date. Regarding the special elephant quota, he said the intention was to “maximise citizen participation across the entire value chain”.
Future plans are to make the elephant value chain more beneficial to citizens by using CITES dispensations to create value chains around elephant by-products. Increasing benefits of hunting for communities in wildlife-intensive areas is also in plans. In addition, DWNP intends to introduce “exploration of alternative mechanisms for trade in high value wildlife stockpiles, including ivory.” Meanwhile, Botswana’s elephant population started to increase to over 100 000 around 2002 and the number keeps growing. With an estimated 150 000 elephants, Botswana is currently home to one third of Africa’s elephant population.