On 22 May 2019, the Government of Botswana took a decision to lift the five-year hunting suspension on elephant. And last week, it auctioned off seven licenses of 10 kills each.
According to The Citizen newspaper, the one-hour sale was conducted by a local firm, Auction It Botswana, from the premises of the Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism in the capital Gaborone.
“Seven hunting packages, of 10 elephants each, were available for auction. Only one (package) was not sold as no bidders met the reserve price of 2 million pula ($183,000),” said Adrian Rass, managing director of Auction It. “The six (packages) were sold for a total price of 25.7 million pula ($2.35 million).”
Botswana’s elephant population is around 130,000 animals – about one third of Africa’s remaining savanna elephants. When the ban went into effect in 2014, there were a reported 80,000 elephants in the country.
In June 2018, a Cabinet Sub Committee of local authorities, NGOs, researchers, industry representatives, and others, was created by the Botswana government to explore the possibility of lifting the trophy hunting ban.
Some of the findings of the Cabinet Sub Committee on Hunting Ban and Social Dialogue include:
- The number and high levels of human-elephant conflict and the consequent impact on livelihoods was increasing.
- Predators appear to have increased and were causing a lot of damage as they kill livestock in large numbers.
- There is a negative impact of the hunting suspension on livelihoods, particularly for community based organisations that were previously benefiting from consumptive utilization.
- The lack of capacity within the Department of Wildlife and National Parks leads to long response time to problem animal control reports.
All of these findings led to the lifting of the ban.