Starting in 2014, Botswana plans to ban commercial hunting over wildlife species decline. And the WWF believes it couldn’t come any sooner. African species have long been hunted for sport, particularly by wealthy outsiders, and it has become a lucrative business in many southern and eastern African nations. Rhinos and Elephants especially have also been illegally hunted for their ivory and horns, for which almost all demand comes from East Asia. Here’s hoping that his ban in Botswana is both a successful halt to species decline and a start to larger, regional movements that protect local wildlife.
What are the downsides to the ban? Some tourism revenue will disappear, and local communities containing private hunting and guiding companies may feel an impact in their local economies. Those living in the bush who rely on hunting for food, however, will still be permitted to do so.
What are the upsides? The likelihood of extinction for a great number of African species, many of which are endangered already, decreases dramatically. “As much as a third of the global elephant population lives in Botswana” (roughly 130,000), and to have such a vast population now with increased, government-backed protection makes a significant difference.
What is left to see if is if these new rules can be enforced. Poachers have notoriously been able to continue their business right under the noses of their home nations and game reserves, for the rangers in charge of wildlife protection are often under-budgeted and under-staffed. Will wealthy tourists who desire to hunt be able to continue illegally in the same way? We’ll have to hope Botswana can do an adequate job enforcing this new law.