Take only photos and leave only footprints,” may become the new credo in Botswana, a premier safari destination that has also been popular among big game hunters.
The Texas-sized nation has announced plans to ban trophy hunting in public areas amid concerns about sharply declining wildlife populations. “The shooting of wild game for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna,” said Botswana’s environment ministry in a statement.
Botswana teems with wildlife—birds, hippos, lions, zebras. As much as a third of all the world’s elephants—an estimated 130,000 animals—roam Botswana’s wilderness areas. One wildlife refuge alone, Chobe National Park, counts 70,000.
As a measure to preserve that abundant and diverse wildlife, the ban on trophy hunting will begin on January 1, 2004. However, some hunting will be permitted. The government says it will continue to grant licenses “for traditional hunting by some local communities within designated wildlife management areas.”
Wildlife advocates welcomed the news as a step in the right direction. “The ideal scenario would be that it has a similar effect to the ban on whaling 20 years ago,” Adrian Hiel, a spokesperson with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, told the BBC. “Whale watching is now proven to be more sustainable and profitable than hunting and killing the animals.”
Take a virtual safari to Botswana with Christopher Cox, who visited the country on assignment. A special photo gallery, Botswana from the Air, offers stunning imagery by famed photographer George Steinmetz.