An auto-rickshaw passes wild elephants standing on the side of a highway. (Photographer: Atul Loke/Bloomberg)

Country With the Most Elephants Wants to Lift Hunting Ban

(Bloomberg) -- Botswana, the nation with the world’s largest elephant population, should lift a hunting ban on the animals to reduce crop damage, according to a government committee.

The proposal comes after consultations with researchers and hunters as well as weeks of public hearings on the elephant hunting ban, which was introduced in 2014 by the previous administration. There are at least 130,000 elephants in the sparsely populated southern African nation, or roughly 1 per 18 citizens.

Country With the Most Elephants Wants to Lift Hunting Ban

“Our recommendation is that the hunting ban should be lifted and also that we manage the elephant population within historic ranges,” Local Government and Rural Development Minister Frans Van Der Westhuizen said Thursday as he handed the committee’s report to President Mokgweetsi Masisi. “We are recommending the installation of fences in key areas of human-animal conflict and also that the compensation for damages caused by animals should be reviewed.”

Masisi said cabinet would study the report and issue a final decision soon.

The hunting ban has been a divisive issue, pitting local communities against animal-rights activists who say elephants come to Botswana from neighboring countries to seek refuge from poachers. Former President Ian Khama has publicly voiced his opposition to the lifting of the ban.

Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia are nations that border Botswana and have large elephant populations.

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