Botswana has legalised hunting elephants in a country that has the world’s highest number of animals. The decision has angered wildlife protection groups world over owing to its insensitivity to the majestic creatures, reports Time.

Botswana is home to an estimated 130,000 elephants. Lifting a ban in such circumstances, drastically increases the chances of illegal poaching of elephants for their tusks to support the ivory trade.

Tourist watching an elephant crossing a river in the Chobe National Park in Botswana, Africa

The government took the decision to lift the ban among growing conflicts between humans-especially farmers- and elephants. The government’s official statement said, “hunting will resume in an orderly and ethical manner.” However, there has been no mention of how it is going to be regulated.

Possible Tourism Boycott in Botswana?

The African nation has been a refuge for elephants on a continent where the animals have been killed over the years for ivory. Many have also taken to the internet to protest Botswana’s move threatening a tourism boycott. Hollywood talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres also joined the protest.

Tourism in Botswana is the second highest source of income after diamond mining and a boycott to tourism could seriously damage its economy. Remington Research Group for Humane Society International (HIS) conducted a poll in the US and found that only 27% of the respondents said that they would still consider visiting Botswana if the hunting ban is lifted.

“President Masisi, for every person who wants to kill elephants, there are millions who want them protected. We’re watching,” tweeted the CEO of WildlifeDirect, Paula Kahumbu.

Another key reason for the ban being lifted is political friction between Botswana’s previous and current president. The decision comes months ahead of the country’s general elections. The hunting ban was initially put in place under previous president, Ian Khama, an outspoken conservationist. However, current President Mokgweeti Masisi, began looking into the ban once he took office and has now lifted it.

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