By Andrea Matthee
Conservationists are deeply concerned that the government of Botswana is considering lifting the ban on elephant hunting and turning culled animals into pet food.
A government committee report presented to the Botswana president, argued that hunting would promote tourism, whilst controlling the elephant population. Frans Van Der Westhuizen, who chaired the committee said, “We recommend … a legal framework that will enable the growth of a safari hunting industry and manage the country’s elephant population within the historic range.” The report also recommended the “regular but limited” culling of the creatures and turning their meat into canned pet food.
David Barritt, campaign director for Network for Animals (NFA) said, “It is very disappointing that the government is even considering this. It is a fallacy that hunting benefits the people. The only people who benefit are the people who organize the hunts and when all the elephants with big tusks have been killed, they abandon the area. This suggestion would be deadly for elephants and certainly not in the economic best interests of Botswana’s people or its tourist industry.”
Barritt said that if Botswana started turning elephants into pet food, it would result in international outrage. “We are talking about one of the most endangered species in the world here, pet lovers would never stand for it.”
An elephant conservationist who works with the Botswanan government called the suggested cull and hunting “short sighted.” He said the suggestion: “is not economically viable and it doesn’t take into account the reputational damage to the country. Better exploitation of sustainable tourism is a far better model.”