Botswana, home to one third of Africa's elephants, announced Wednesday that it was lifting its ban on the hunting of the large mammals.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Botswana had banned elephant hunting in 2014 under the leadership of conservation-minded President Ian Khama, who opposed trophy hunting and also introduced a shoot-to-kill policy against poachers, The New York Times reported. But his successor, President Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi, convened a committee to reassess the ban after winning election in 2018.
The announcement prompted an outcry from conservationists and wildlife lovers around the world.
"The whole world is turning away from hunting. It is increasingly seen as an archaic practice. This is very, very damaging to the image of Botswana as a global leader in elephant conservation," Kenyan-based expert and activist Dr. Paula Kahumbu said, as The Guardian reported.
Celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Kristin Davis also spoke out against lifting the ban, according to The New York Times.