The elephant hunting season opened on April 6th, 2021 in Botswana. The Botswana authorities have issued permits to kill 287 pachyderms by the end of the season in September 2021. But this operation is not to the liking of environmentalists, who see it as the destruction of biodiversity. In March 2021, African elephants were declared endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In Botswana, Map Ives is one of the conservationists opposing the 2021 elephant hunting season, which was launched on April 6th, 2021 in Gaborone in the southeast of the country. I understand that hunting can be useful as a [wildlife] management tool,” says Map Ives, “but it should be based on science, and unfortunately in Botswana we don’t have the financial resources or the trained manpower to do population research on different species,” says the national coordinator of Rhino Conservation Botswana. Map Ives’ concerns are consistent with the latest statistics from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on African elephants.
In its new red list of endangered animals, the IUCN classifies the savanna elephant (Loxodonta Africana) as “endangered” and its cousin, the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) as “critically endangered”. According to the organisation, the African elephant population has fallen by 86% in 30 years. The main causes are the destruction of their habitat and hunting.
Responsible and ethical hunting?
Botswana has the largest elephant population in the world, estimated at around 130 000. In 2019, the country lifted a total ban on hunting, introduced five years earlier to reverse the decline in elephant and other species. The lifting of the ban was adopted by the current President of the Republic, Mokgweetsi Masisi, who believes that the uncontrolled growth of the pachyderm population is threatening the livelihoods, including crops, of local people.
For this year, Botswana authorities have issued about 100 hunting permits, with an additional 187 permits from the last season suspended due to restrictions related to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Botswana Wildlife and National Parks Authority has given assurances of responsible and ethical hunting. Applicants for the hunt should have ‘proven experience of elephant hunting’ and no criminal convictions for wildlife offences. In addition, the hunting of collared elephants is prohibited and all expeditions must be accompanied at all times by a tour guide and a professional hunter.