Hunters Banned in Botswana After Shooting and Killing Research Elephant
The death echoes the infamous killing of "Cecil the Lion" by an American hunter in Zimbabwe in 2015, Reuters pointed out. Cecil was also a research animal who was supposed to be off limits to hunters. The incident also comes around six months after Botswana lifted a five-year ban on the hunting of elephants.
"We wish to re-assure the public that the Ministry will work with the hunting industry to ensure that the necessary ethical standards are upheld at all times," the Botswana government wrote in a statement Saturday.
The statement identified the hunters as Michael Lee Potter and Kevin Sharp. Potter is a professional hunter while Sharp held a citizen's hunting license, the government said in an earlier statement. Saturday's statement said the two hunters had voluntarily surrendered their hunting licenses to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Sharp's suspension will last three years while Potter's is indefinite. The two hunters will also replace the collar.
Neither Reuters nor BBC News could determine the hunters' nationalities, and neither was able to obtain a comment from the two men.
The government first announced the news of the killing on Friday. It said that the incident occurred Nov. 24 in a controlled hunting area, and that the hunters claimed not to have seen the collar.
"They allege that one of the bulls approached them and they shot at it. The professional hunter claimed that the collar was not visible as the elephant was in a full-frontal position. Once the animal was down, they realized it had a collar on it placed for research purposes," the statement said.
"The government should investigate this incident and send a strong message to professional hunters. His license should also be revoked," Fitt said at the time.
When Botswana lifted its elephant hunting ban, it said it would put quotas in place for certain areas and issue around 400 licenses a year. It said the decision was made because of an increase in conflict between elephants and humans, BBC News explained. Elephants can damage crops and sometimes kill people if they enter farms or villages.
But conservationists spoke out against lifting the ban, and some argued that hunting would only stress elephants and make them more dangerous to humans.
Almost one third of Africa's elephants live in Botswana, according to The Independent. In the country, the number of elephants has risen from 80,000 in the late 1990s to 130,000 today. But elephants on the rest of the continent have not been so lucky. Their numbers have fallen from more than one million in 1980 to slightly more than 300,000. This is mostly due to poaching for ivory. Around 40 elephants are killed for it every day.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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