Botswana mulls using elephants for food, lifting hunting ban

Mar 2012
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A report by cabinet ministers in Botswana has recommended lifting a four-year hunting ban and the introduction of elephant culling.

After months of public meetings and consultations, the report by ministers also recommends the "establishment of elephant meat canning" for pet food.

The number of elephants in Botswana is estimated to be about 130,000, which some argue is too many for the ecosystem - there is increasing conflict between wildlife and people.

But others say the country's tourism has grown dramatically since the ban came into place and that lifting it would affect the country's international reputation for conservation.

"The number of the elephants has increased - at the same time the human population also increased, and there has been demand for more land. Hunting can be used as a conservation tool, by utilising wilderness that is not suitable for the high-end photographic safaris that Botswana is famous for.

But many conservationists are against the idea of culling elephants or hunting them and warn there may be a backlash from international tourists. Tourism is Botswana's second largest source of foreign income after diamond mining.

With an election due in October, the government has to balance lifting the hunting ban to win rural votes, against the impact it may have on Botswana's international reputation as a luxury safari destination.

Botswana mulls using elephants for pet food