Botswana lifted the country’s elephant hunting-ban ahead of the election, a controversial decision conservationist groups say is aimed at securing the votes of rural communities in October, according to Bloomberg.
Botswana's elephant population has tripled since 1991 to 160,000, a trend that accelerated after the ban in question was enforced by former president Ian Khama.
The central African country, which now houses the largest elephant community in the world, faces a unique challenge in controlling the large animals, which often destroy crops, kill villagers, and tear down trees, according to Bloomberg.
According to Botswana’s government, lifting the ban will not meaningfully reduce the number of elephants. On the other hand, it would improve safety in the countryside, and give an economic boost to rural communities. The average elephant hunt costs $45,000, according to the New York-based outlet.
Critics, including Khama, say the move is politically motivated and could negatively impact the tourism industry, which represents a fifth of Botswana's economy.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party faces a tough road ahead October after its support eroded to a record low of 46% in the last election in 2014.