Botswana has the largest population of elephant in Africa – between 136 000 and 170 000 animals, making this potentially the premier elephant-hunting destination on the continent.
After banning elephant hunting for the previous six years, in 2020 the Botswana government decided to make a limited quota of elephants available for trophy hunting again. This decision was condemned by international wildlife activists – even though it was based on detailed research and information from experts and stakeholders, which advocated a sustainable utilisation policy, truly bringing the benefits to the local population. Elephant culling provides a much-needed source of protein and financial assistance to local communities that struggle to survive on a subsistence basis.
This policy is also helping to reduce the human / wildlife conflict. A large part of Botswana’s population live in remote areas. They plant seasonal crops, which they harvest and store to get them through the winter months. With the elephant population growing annually, more and more elephants are moving out of the vast national parks and reserves as the pressure of overpopulation forces them to look for more food and space. The elephants plunder the crops of these subsistence farmers, bringing them into conflict with humans. It is this conflict which the Botswana government wishes to avoid.
There is an additional facet to the growing numbers of elephants in Botswana: their impact on the conservation of other wildlife, for example the worrying destruction of vegetation and habitat.
Botswana, a landlocked country bordering South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, covers an area of approximately 600 370 km2 and is similar in size to Madagascar and slightly smaller than Texas. It has a population of approximately 2,5 million, making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in Africa.
This provides vast expanses for wilderness areas and free-roaming wildlife. In fact, about 42% of the country’s land mass is reserved for the conservation of its wildlife.
Botswana is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and unspoiled countries in Africa. It is unique in its variety – apart from its grassland and savannahs, it is home to both the arid Kalahari Desert and the lush, water-rich Okavango Delta. With an area of 15 000 km2 this is the largest inland delta in the world, and one of the world’s premier wilderness areas. Add to this its numerous natural wonders and its friendly people, and Botswana becomes a premier tourist destination and hunters’ paradise.