A committee of cabinet ministers in Botswana has recommended that the country lifts a four-year ban on hunting and introduces the culling of elephants and the canning of their meat for pet food.

Botswana is home to a third of Africa’s elephants.

After months of consultation, government ministers have recommended that the president re-introduce hunting to help tackle the conflict between wildlife and people, and as a conservation tool.

Shortly after coming into office last year President Mokgweetsi Masisi asked ministers to review the hunting ban, which came into force in 2014.

Public meetings were held and organisations, communities and individuals were asked to comment.

The report’s findings recommend:

  • that the hunting ban should be lifted and that some wildlife migration routes be closed.
  • the introduction of “regular but limited elephant culling” and,
  • the establishment of “elephant meat canning” for the production of pet food.

Botswana is estimated to have 130 000 elephants, and until recently had largely escaped the poaching epidemic which kills tens of thousands of African elephants every year.

Some argue their numbers are increasing, and there is evidence they are wandering further outside conservation areas creating conflict with communities.

Crops are destroyed, people have been killed and there is public support for re-introducing hunting in some rural areas.