Botswana issues elephant hunting licenses

A herd of elephants.PHOTO/AP

For the first time in five years, elephant hunting will be legal in Botswana, with authorities planning to issue nearly 160 hunting licenses in coming weeks.

The southern African country says the elephant population is too big and needs to be curbed.

In May this year, Botswana lifted a ban on elephant hunting, citing growing conflict between wildlife and humans.

The country has an elephant population of more than 130,000, more than double its official capacity.

Seventy-two licenses will be given to non-citizens and will be awarded through a bidding process for next year’s hunting season, expected to begin in April.

Another 86 licenses have been reserved for locals, and are being awarded through a nationwide raffle system.

Participation in the raffle is high. Maun, a wildlife zone in the northwestern part of the country, saw 5,990 locals jostling for just eight elephant hunting licenses reserved for the area.

Botswana’s minister of environment and natural resources, Kitso Mokaila, says the hunting season will start off “slowly and cautiously.”

He says quotas were allocated in areas where there is increased conflict between humans and wildlife.

The first session of the hunting season runs between September and November.