Botswana has recently auctioned off hunting permits allowing the slaughter of 70 elephants for $39,000 a head, infuriating environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts around the globe.

Conservationists are outraged after the end of the nations long-standing ban on trophy hunting.



The permit auction was arranged by third party auctioneer on behalf of the government with packages of 10 elephants offered up at a time, according to a document viewed by Bloomberg. The packages are purchased by expedition operators who sell them to trophy hunters for a profit. Most trophy hunters in southern Africa come from the U.S., according to Bloomberg.

It is reported that all but one of the packages have been sold.

Conservation organizations that opted to bid on the permits and not shoot the elephants were banned from participating, according to the Independent.



The EMS Foundation in Africa, which battles to protect elephants among its many projects, tweeted afterward:

“Shame on you, President Masisi – we will not forget.”

The government has set a quota for killing a total of 272 of the animals this year. Foreign hunters will be allowed to shoot 202 of those, and export the trophies back to their home nations.

Poaching is still taking a major toll on elephant populations and conservationists warn that hunting adds to the devastation as trophy hunters are generally after the largest and healthiest animals.



Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, told The Independent:

“Trophy hunting is artificial selection. By targeting the biggest and strongest animals, it leaves the weaker, smaller animals behind.

This means the best genes are being lost, so the species will be less able to adapt to accelerating climate change, it will be more prone to disease, and the risk of extinction is greater.”

Botswana instituted a ban on elephant trophy hunting in 2014. But that ban has been revoked, and President Mokgweetsi Masisi promoted elephant hunting last year. Farmers have recently complained about an increase in dangerous encounters with elephants.



Besides concerns about the loss of the animals, conservationists have argued that Botswana’s important tourist industry could be devastated by the change, which has most likely outraged may eco-tourists. Tourism accounts for a fifth of the Botswana’s economy.

Botswana is home to some 130,000 elephants, the world’s largest population. But Africa’s total elephant population plummeted by more than two-thirds in 40 years, from 1.3 million in 1979 to 415,000 in 2015, according to official figures.