COVID-19: Botswana's first hunting season in jeopardy

COVID-19: Botswana's first hunting season hangs in balance due to coronavirus threats

Representative image. (Getty images)

Botswana has so far reported no COVID-19 cases but global travel bans and cancellations caused by the pandemic have thrown the country's controversial resumption of hunting into doubt.

Botswana, home to the world's largest elephant population, in February held its first major auction for trophy elephant hunting quotas since scrapping a hunting ban last year.

Follow latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak here

Botswana Wildlife Producers Association has now asked the government to extend the hunting season which was due to commence next month, after the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe.

"Booked management hunts for the next few months already resulted in many cancellations and postponement of the rest," Dr Eric Verreynne, a member of the association's executive committee said.

Also Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases, deaths

He also said if the outbreak extends for more than three months, the hunting season will be too short to market the full quotas.

With most hunters coming from the US and Europe which are considered affected areas, access to Botswana via commercial airlines will be all but impossible especially as a result of the travel restrictions.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi raised the ire of conservationists in May when he revoked a hunting moratorium, just a year after he succeeded Ian Khama, an avid environmentalist, who introduced a blanket ban in 2014 to reverse a decline in the population of wild animals.

Masisi fended off criticism of his government's decision, saying the move would not threaten the elephant population.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox