The Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism in Botswana has announced it will enforce a ban on all hunting in the country effective January 1, 2014 saying that wildlife populations are declining.
Botswana, a land-locked country in southern Africa, boasts roughly one-third of the world’s elephant population, or about 130,000 of the large herbivores. Its large national parks and the Kalahari Desert are home to lions, giraffes, wild dogs, antelopes, buffalo, wildebeests and more. The country is a premier destination for safaris.
At 12 percent of the annual GDP, tourism is the country’s second biggest industry after diamond mining, but tourism doesn’t outweigh its interpretation of conservation, according to the ministry.
The ministry claimed that hunting had only contributed a minimal amount to the tourism sector, according to the BBC. The country is grappling with a sharp population drop of some of its wildlife species.
“If left unchecked this decline poses a genuine threat to both the conservation of our natural heritage and the long term health of the local tourist industry which currently ranks second to diamonds in terms of its revenue earnings,” the ministry said.
Pro-sportsman groups like Safari Club International (SCI) dispute the ministry’s assertions.