Elephants could soon become dog food if officials in Botswana approve recommendations to halt a four-year ban on hunting the animals and introduce cutting up their meat for pets.
Other recommendations also include closing down wildlife migratory routes that are “not beneficial to the country’s conservation efforts” and that “regular but limited elephant cutting” should be introduced for the “establishment of elephant meat canning” for pet food.
According to lawmakers, there is “growing conflict” between humans and wildlife in Botswana and that the more than 130,000 elephants in the country have caused problems for small-scale farmers and rural villages since the hunting ban was implemented in 2014.
“We recommend a legal framework that will enable the growth of a safari hunting industry and manage the country’s elephant population within the historic range,” said government minister and committee chair Frans Van Der Westhuizen, according to The Independent.
The report comes nearly a year after President Mokgweetsi Masisi asked ministers to review the hunting ban which was put in place by his predecessor Ian Khama.
The committee held public meetings with organizations, communities, and individuals before releasing its report, the BBC reported.
Masisi appeared to welcome the report, which is expected to go through further consultation before it is implemented.
"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," he said, according to the BBC. "If needs be, we will give an opportunity to parliament to also interrogate it, and also allow them the space to intervene before we make a final determination."
Critics of ending the ban have said that it would impact the tourism industry to the country, which has reportedly grown dramatically since the ban went into place. They also say lifting the ban would affect the country’s international reputation for conservation.