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Botswana is known as an elephant sanctuary thanks to a 2014 ban on elephant hunting. It is home to over 130,000 elephants, which is the highest population in the world. Not everyone is so happy about these record numbers, though. Thursday, cabinet ministers in Botswana recommended that the hunting ban be lifted. They also recommended that the meat taken from the culled animals should be canned for dog food.

The president of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, appointed a committee in June of 2018 to review the hunting ban. The committee met with local organizations and held public meetings for comments. They found that the population has grown too big for the ecosystem to support and the elephants are a threat to the lives and livelihoods of local farmers.

The report given to President Masisi recommends “regular but limited elephant culling” be allowed. The president responded by saying he would take the report into consideration. “If needs be, we will give an opportunity to parliament to also interrogate it, and also allow them the space to intervene before we make a final determination”, he said.

Supporters of lifting the ban say that hunting is a conservation tool. It will reduce crop damage for farmers and bring safari jobs back. Bringing the elephant population back to “historically appropriate levels” would benefit everyone.

Critics say that allowing the animals to be hunted will cause international outrage and harm the tourism industry. Tourism has boomed since the 2014 hunting ban and became Botswana’s second highest source of income behind diamonds. A blow to tourism could be crippling to their economy.  With an election in October, it will be interesting to see how the government tries to appeal to both sides of the argument.

I turn the debate over to you. Do you think Botswana should continue to be an elephant sanctuary, or should controversial elephant hunting be re-established?

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