Botswana, the country with the most number of elephants, is lifting its four-year hunting ban due to the increasing conflict between animal welfare and economic gains.

After months of consultations and review meetings, the cabinet members concluded that the number of elephants in the country is too many. They even recommended hunting the animal to turn its meat into pet food.

'Regular But Limited'

The cabinet's report recommended specific measures, including the management of elephants within their historic range and the "establishment of elephant meat canning."

The report added that some migratory routes have become invasive to human lives, hence the closure of the said routes. Limited but regular culling activities should be done to reduce the population of elephants to the desired number.

While the recommendations are yet to be implement, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said they will have further consultations, and a white paper will be produced.

If executed, the move will counter former president Ian Khama's declaration of the hunting ban in 2014. Under Khama's term, the hunting ban was to conserve the declining number of elephants in the wild.

"The causes of the decline are likely due to a combination of factors such as anthropogenic impacts, including illegal offtake and habitat fragmentation or loss," the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism announced on its Facebook page in 2013.

However, the previous government said the ban would be temporary until remedial measures are put in place to address the elephant's population decline.

Conservation Worry

Tourism in Botswana has flourished since the hunting ban was imposed. The national income that comes from foreign tourism is the second largest, next to diamond mining.

With the lifting of the hunting ban, workers employed in hunting safaris lost their jobs.

While Botswana has been successful in protecting the elephants, some critics said that the ban had worked to compromise people and environment.

"During the past 20 years the elephant range in Botswana has expanded by 53%, causing increasing concern about the impact of elephants on biodiversity, the viability of other species and the livelihoods and safety of people living within the elephant range," said Elephants Without Borders, a conservation NGO.

Meanwhile, Department of Wildlife and National Parks Director Otisitwe Tiroyamodimo said that climate change has affected how far elephants travel outside their natural range.

As water and food becomes depleted, elephants migrate closer to farmlands, causing destruction of crops and posing risks to human lives.

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