Botswana has lifted a hunting ban, allowing hunters to kill elephants. A statement issued by its Ministry of Environment, Natural Resource Conservation and Tourism says that hunting would be reinstated “in an orderly and ethical manner”.

This comes just days after Botswana’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi met with leaders from Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe to speak about the sale of ivory. The countries, along with South Africa, have submitted that by lifting the ban on the sale of ivory, this trade would be crucial in assisting future conservation projects.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the African elephant population has dropped significantly in Africa due to massive poaching. In the early part of the 20th century, there may have been as many as 3 to 5 million African elephants, but in the last decade it fell by 110,000. There are now around 415,000 left, and Botswana is home to about a third of them. The country’s second largest source of foreign income comes from tourism.

Elephant tusks are in high demand in Asian countries and are used for jewellery, ornaments and other goods. Prior to the Ministry’s announcement, elephant hunting had been suspended in Botswana for five years.

Animal welfare organization, Network for Animals (NFA), said the decision to allow the hunting of elephants is irrational, and could lead to their possible extinction in a few decades.

“The elephant population is shrinking considerably in Africa and this decision will have dire consequences for Africa. Have these leaders thought about what will happen when there are no more elephants to hunt?” says NFA’s chief campaigner, David Barritt.

“Leaders are placing profits and greed before the welfare of animals – who are slaughtered brutally for their tusks – while leaving infants to fend for themselves. There is nothing ‘ethical’ about it. We appeal to leaders to rethink this decision and take our future generations into account.”

“This green light to hunt could mean that generations to come may never get the opportunity to see these gentle giants, because they would have been exterminated, all for the sake of profits.”