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Botswana is home to a third of all Africa's elephants. There are around 130,000 of the giant creatures living there, which is the largest elephant population in Africa.
But visiting tourists could soon be allowed to shoot the animals after a report from cabinet ministers recommended lifting the country's hunting ban.
According to the BBC, the report issued by ministers also recommends the 'establishment of elephant meat canning' for pet food, following months of public meetings.
It is said that lifting the five-year-old ban to 'regular but limited' culling could curb what ministers call a 'growing conflict' between humans and wildlife.
The director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Otisitwe Tiroyamodimo, explained: "The number of the elephants has increased - at the same time the human population also increased, and there has been demand for more land."
According to the Independent, government minister Frans Van Der Westhuizen, who has chaired a cabinet committee looking into the issue, 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."
However, it has also been said that legalising big-game hunting could reverse Botswana's international reputation for conservation.
On 21 February, President Mokgweetsi Masisi received the hunting ban report and has promised to take it into consideration.
As reported by the BBC, he said: "I can promise you and the nation that we will consider it. A white paper will follow and it will be shared with the public.
"If needs be, we will give an opportunity to parliament to also interrogate it, and also allow them the space to intervene before we make a final determination."
Speaking at the Office of the President earlier this afternoon (21/2/19), President Masisi said he was looking forward to reading the report and promised to take its recommendations into consideration.
- Botswana Government (@BWGovernment) February 21, 2019
According to the BBC, the report includes recommendations stating that the hunting ban should be lifted, the elephant population should be managed, wildlife migratory routes 'not beneficial to the country's conservation efforts' should be closed, and 'regular but limited elephant culling' should be introduced.
Many conservationists are strongly against the idea of slaughtering elephants, warning that there may be a backlash when it comes to tourism.
Responding to the government's tweets, one person said: "Don't lift the ban. Stay the course and continue being the champions of conservation."
Another added: "Botswana is an outrider when it comes to conservation in Africa. This has a huge impact on the decision of many tourists to decide for a safari in Botswana. Too many steps backwards will have an influence on the rising numbers of eco tourists worldwide."
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