Why We Lifted The Ban On Elephant Hunting

Discussion in 'Articles' started by NamStay, May 27, 2019.

  1. NamStay

    NamStay AH Fanatic

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    Source: Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi FB Page


    WHY WE LIFTED THE BAN ON ELEPHANT HUNTING.

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    When my Government announced earlier this week [Thursday, May 23] that Botswana would be lifting its ban on elephant hunting, many people around the world, but especially in the U.S. and the UK, reacted with shock and horror. How could we do such a thing? What could possibly justify the wholesale slaughter of such noble and intelligent creatures? Is it really true that we intend to turn these magnificent animals into dog food?
    All of these questions, and many more like them that have been raised in recent days, are understandable—understandable but misguided. The fact is, we in Botswana who live with and alongside the elephants yield to no one in our affection and concern for them, and we would never condone, no less promote, any of the terrible things those questions imply are in the offing. So let me explain what it is we are doing, and why.

    To begin with, while it is true that we are lifting the ban on hunting, we are doing so in an extremely limited, tightly controlled fashion. We are not engaging in anything remotely like the culling of our elephant herds, and we are definitely not going to be using any elephants for pet food. Rather, after extensive consultations with local communities, scientists, and leaders of neighboring African states, we decided on a course of action that embodies three guiding principles—the need to conserve Botswana’s natural resources, the need to facilitate human-wildlife co-existence, and the need to promote scientific management of the country’s elephants and other wildlife species.

    The hunting ban was originally put in place in 2014, ostensibly as a temporary measure, in response to reports of declines in some animal populations. But Botswana’s elephant population wasn’t at risk. To the contrary, while the number of elephants in all of Africa has been declining, Botswana’s elephant population has been exploding—from 50,000 or so in 1991 to more than 130,000 today—far more than Botswana’s fragile environment, already stressed by drought and other effects of climate change, can safely accommodate.
    With elephants moving out of their usual range in search of food and water, there has been a sharp increase in the number of dangerous human-elephant interactions, one result of which has been widespread destruction of crops, livestock, and property. In the north, marauding elephants have slashed maize yields by three-quarters.

    As an expert at the World Wildlife Fund recently noted, “A year’s livelihood can be destroyed in one or two nights by crop-raiding elephants.” Even worse, people have been injured and even killed by elephants roaming freely across Botswana’s unfenced parks and rural areas.

    Adding to the problem is a sense of deep unhappiness about the hunting ban among rural people who felt they weren’t consulted when the ban was first imposed. Combined with the destructive impact of elephant overpopulation, this has transformed rural people’s traditional concern for wildlife into resentment, leading many to take up poaching.

    So this is the problem that lifting the ban seeks to address. It’s not that the ban caused the huge increase in our elephant population. It’s that it has allowed elephants to move with impunity into once-hazardous inhabited areas, thus increasing the number of human-elephant conflicts and, not incidentally, the environmental and economic challenges faced by rural people.

    The need to do something about the escalating level of human-elephant conflict was a central theme of the Kasane Elephant Summit I recently hosted for the leaders of Angola, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Collectively, the five southern African countries are home to more than 260 000 elephants in what we call the Kavango Zambezi Trans-frontier Area, and at our meeting we agreed that assuring the future of elephants in our region depends on our ability to ensure that elephants are an economic benefit, not a burden, to those who live side by side with them. To this end, we in Botswana will be encouraging community-based organizations and trusts to emphasize natural-resource conservation and tourism. Thus, we will be allocating more than half the elephant licenses we grant to local communities and instituting a series of strong measures designed to guarantee local people far more than just menial jobs, but rather a significant ownership stake in the tourism industry.

    In this way, we will restore the elephant’s economic value of elephants to rural populations. In turn, this will provide local communities with a strong incentive to protect elephants and other wildlife from habitat loss, poaching, and anything else that threatens their survival. In short, as they realize the economic benefits of wildlife resources, local communities will become increasingly committed to sustainable wildlife management and conservation—a commitment that will benefit both Botswana’s people and Botswana’s elephants.
     

  2. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    That was extremely well written.
     
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  3. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Thanks for sharing!
     

  4. Jfet

    Jfet AH Elite

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  5. BenKK

    BenKK AH Fanatic

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    Good job, Botswana!
     

  6. Newboomer

    Newboomer GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Now that makes sense. Very well put and factual. I am happy to see Botswana standing up to all the naysayers and doing what they feel is the correct course of action.
     

  7. Pheroze

    Pheroze AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Someone put a lot of thought into that message. Terrific.
     

  8. JES Adventures

    JES Adventures AH Fanatic

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    Excellent message, thank you Mr. President.
     

  9. cagkt3

    cagkt3 AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Well written
     

  10. Robert T.

    Robert T. New Member

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    Well done - to the point - shows once again that controlled / sustainable sport hunting regulation that creates substantial financial value to the resource is the foundation of all successful wildlife conservation worldwide.
     

  11. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    As all have said, this makes perfect sense and is extremely well written. Good for Botswana.

    The challenge will be that many antis do not believe that animals should have "economic value" any more than human beings should have "economic value." That's where we - or at least I - and they differ. Animals, unlike people, are a natural resource and it is up to us to manage that natural resource wisely for future generations. Well-regulated hunting is an integral part of many (any?) integrated sustainable wildlife management programs.

    Bans do not accomplish the goal of wise resource management. If they did, there would be some explanation for why the population of rhinos has plummeted since a ban on trade in rhino horns was announced. And before someone points to "lax enforcement" or "collusion between government and traffickers" let's all pause for a moment and look at how effective the ban on narcotics has been. There can be no argument of lax enforcement there. The US launched a "war on drugs" in 1971 under President Nixon and has spent untold billions with literally nothing to show for the effort (is there one drug user anywhere in the US (and elsewhere) today who cannot find one illegal drug or another, virtually on demand?).

    But's let's also be clear about the issue of animal protection. The continued existence of elephants or any other species is not the goal of many of the more extreme antis - known as the "animal rights movement" - who would rather see animals extinct than used by man.

    To those who see no role for the economic utilization of animals and especially for those who see animals as akin to human beings, the arguments made by the President of Botswana will have no resonance whatsoever.

    Fortunately, I believe the "silent majority" is more rational, and can see the virtue of the arguments made by Botswana. We need to continue to make those arguments while being under no illusions that we will convert the more radical animals rightists. For those individuals, we need to unmask them for who they are and point to the ultimate end of their arguments. That is extinction.
     
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  12. tigris115

    tigris115 AH Enthusiast

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    tbh, I think a quota of under 400 elephant is quite small considering the population is over 130,000 and growing. Maybe I'm wrong but I think the quota can be expanded to more. Especially since it'd allow for more American hunters to come to Botswana. Maybe they can even offer cow hunts like in Zimbabwe.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019

  13. Royal27

    Royal27 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    You're correct. Hunting will never be enough for actual population control, much less population reduction. For that real culling is required. But, it will fund management and could fund poaching if ever allowed. Baby steps....

    The larger issue you mention is American hunters. I don't see anyway currently that even 400 elephants a year is a consumable number. My numbers may be off a bit here but I think Zimbabwe has a quota of around 500 and that somewhere around 250 are taken annually.

    Point being, that unless import is allowed American hunters are unlikely to pay an even higher price for an elephant hunt than is already available. I'd LOVE to until Botswana elephant but for what I'm guessing will be a $20-40k difference in price I'm going back to Zimbabwe....

    It's going to take a couple of years for things to work out I believe.
     

  14. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Fear not that number will be increased soon...
     
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