The Botswana government has reintroduced elephant hunts with a cautious approach to pricing a move that is believed to further intensify the controversy that is threatening a $2 billion tourism industry following a five-year ban on hunting, was lifted.
Environment minister Kitso Mokaila said the government will auction licences to hunting operators for the right to shoot 158 elephants but is still to decide on the minimum price to be set at the sales.
It was also reported that there will also be a charge of 20,000 pula ($1,834) for each of the 72 elephants hunting licenses allocated for foreigners.
President of the Professional Hunters Association in South Africa, Dries van Coller said, “It’s a very reasonable price. They would rather proceed with caution, and see how it goes.”
With almost 130,000 elephants roaming free nationwide, Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population.
“We want to start off cautiously and steadily to see if all that we want under the guidelines can be done properly. The sales will start soon,” Mokaila said.
By lifting the hunting ban, the state is now in line with its neighbouring countries.
Zimbabwe has 500 licences and 90 in Namibia and in 2017, it was reported that foreign hunters generated $133 million for South Africa.
In South Africa, less than 50 elephants are shot annually and Zambia also allocated 37 licences this year.
In Botswana, tourism mainly in the form of photographic safaris around Okavango and Chobe in the country accounts for a fifth of the country’s economy.