The restarting of trophy hunting in Botswana has given a green light to poachers which will end in a wildlife disaster, campaigners have warned.
Earlier this month, the country held its first auctions of permits to hunt elephants.
But now the number of poaching cases is soaring at an alarming rate, fuelled by insatiable demand for rhino horn in Asia, where it is coveted as a traditional medicine and as an aphrodisiac.
This horrific image, taken earlier this month, shows the butchered remains of two of these magnificent animals, taking the tally of killings since April to almost 10% of Botswana’s total rhino population.
The government there is trying to keep a lid on the situation, but conservationists say action must be taken or this species could die out by 2021 in the southern African country.
Eduardo Gonclaves, from the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, says: “The restarting of trophy hunting in Botswana has given a green light to the poachers.
“Trophy hunting and poaching are two sides of the same coin.
“When it’s a black African killing an animal for bushmeat or to sell its body parts, it’s called poaching. When it’s a white foreigner who kills the same animal for fun and to keep its body parts, it’s trophy hunting. At the end of the day they are one and the same thing. An innocent animal is killed for greed, vanity or both.
“It’s brutal, senseless and it is driving much of our wildlife to the brink of extinction.
“Now the new government has disarmed the anti-poaching patrols and is telling trophy hunters they’re welcome to come back and shoot endangered elephants.
“As a result, we’re seeing absolute anarchy unfold. It’s hardly surprising this has happened. This was all so predictable. It’s an absolute disaster.”
Thousands of rhinos that once roamed Africa and Asia have been culled by poaching and habitat loss. Very few are found outside national parks and reserves.
Between 2007-17, only six rhinos were killed in Botswana for their horns. In the past year alone, since the government announced its plan to bring back trophy hunting, 30 black and white rhinos have been killed, according to sources.
But campaigners say the real figure is more likely to be at least 46. The total population of rhinos in Botswana is just 500.
The Mirror is campaigning to stop the importation of animal trophies into the UK.
The government is now reviewing the evidence submitted to a DEFRA consultation, and a decision is due later this year.
We are pushing for ban
The Daily Mirror has been calling for an end to the barbaric practice of trophy hunting since we launched a campaign in July.
We are demanding the Government put an immediate ban on the import of animals shot for pleasure.
We also want an end to canned hunting – confining wild animals on small reserves just so they can be shot dead for a price.
Our campaign, backed by MPs, charities and celebrities, calls for a change in international law so that animals shot by hunters are not exempt from strict import rules.
To help the fight email [email protected] saying you back option three for a total ban on trophy hunting imports and exports.
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