Botswana to ban wildlife hunting

Botswana is to ban the commercial hunting of wildlife from 2014 due to a sharp decline in animal populations.

The environment ministry said hunting zones would be replaced by areas where tourists could photograph animals.

The government said the ban would not affect traditional hunting by some communities.

The BBC reports that as much as a third of the world's elephant population lives in Botswana. Recent estimates placed the number at about 130,000.

Hunting concessions currently exist in the northern Okavango Delta and the parks of the Kalahari region, which is famous for upmarket safari lodges.

However, due to its seasonal nature, hunting now contributes only a minimal amount to the tourism sector, which ranks second to the diamond industry in terms of its revenue earnings, the ministry said.

The announcement was welcomed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

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