Botswana, home to almost one-third of Africa’s elephants, lifted a ban on elephant hunting on Wednesday saying the population had increased and farmers’ livelihoods were being impacted.
Conservationists estimate the southern African country has about 130 000 elephants, but some parliamentarians say the number is much higher and causes problems for small-scale farmers.
A prohibition on elephant hunting was introduced in 2014 by then-president Ian Khama, a keen conservationist, after surveys showed declining wildlife populations.
However, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party has been lobbying to overturn the ban saying elephants have become unmanageably large in some areas.
“The government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension,” the environment ministry said in a statement.
“The ministry would like to reiterate that it will work with all stakeholders to ensure that reinstatement of hunting is done in an orderly and ethical manner.”
It said the return of wildlife hunting would take place in accordance with laws and regulations governing wildlife conservation, hunting and licensing, but did not elaborate.
Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, minister of environment, natural resources conservation and tourism, will hold a news conference on Thursday to give details.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi set up a committee in June last year to consider the hunting ban.
At the time, the committee chair said it recommended, “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 committee also called for “regular but limited” elephant cull.
Botswana, a mostly arid country the size of France, has a population of 2.3 million people and its vast tracts of remote wilderness make it a magnet for foreign tourists who want to view wildlife.