Botswana is contemplating removing an elephant hunting ban that has successfully boosted populations over the past four years. The country has seen the number of elephants increase over the years and officials believe culling is needed to prevent conflicts between the mammals and people.

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Experts believe there are around 130,000 elephants in Botswana, a number that has steadily grown since the country adopted a hunting ban in 2014. Although Botswana’s tourism sector has benefited greatly from the population boost, President Mokgweetsi Masisi advised ministers to re-evaluate the ban in light of overpopulation.

Related: Mass poaching in Botswana leaves behind 90 tuskless elephants

Officials in Botswana deliberated for months and consulted with residents and companies about the elephant hunting ban before releasing any data. The research indicated that people and organizations are in favor of lifting the hunting ban and keeping elephant populations within their traditional range. The ministers also recommended limited culling efforts in the event that the ban is lifted.

“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,” President Masisi stated.

Masisi added that they plan on consulting with parliament before they remove the ban and allow hunting of elephants. The president is also open to keeping the ban in place if parliamentary leaders believe it should be upheld.

Proponents of lifting the ban claim that the rise in elephant populations in Botswana has led to an increase in conflict between the large mammals and humans. Farmers have also complained that elephants have been ruining crops. In some cases, the interactions between elephants and humans has turned violent, even leading to deaths.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, disapprove of lifting the ban and say that better conservation efforts are needed to protect these animals. Experts also believe that Botswana’s tourism sector could take a major hit if the country starts hunting elephants again. Following its productive diamond mining, tourism is the country’s next highest source of outside income.

It is unclear when officials in Botswana will initiate a plan to remove the elephant hunting ban and what the culling process will entail.

Via BBC

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