Operators have pledged to review their position on selling holidays to Botswana following the government’s decision to legalise elephant hunting.
The country has lifted a ban on the hunting of elephants, which had been in place for five years, saying it had caused problem for local farmers trying to protect crops.
Online travel agent Luxtripper has taken Botswana – which has the world’s largest elephant population – off sale as a result.
Luxtripper founder and chief executive Nena Chaletzos issued the following statement on Facebook:
“Due to the heartbreaking news that Botswana will be lifting their ban on elephant hunting, it is with sadness that I announce that Luxtripper will no longer be selling trips to this corner of the world.
“It is devastating that such an ugly thing is happening in this beautiful, unique destination, and we hope that this cruel act will be reversed soon… so more of us can discover Botswana’s magic.”
Other suppliers said they would monitor the situation.
David Holland, director of luxury Africa specialist Knighton & Reeve, said he was “disappointed” by the decision.
“We are there to shoot with the camera and nothing else,” he said, adding that Botswana has a “strong record” on animal welfare. He said the operator will continue to sell Botswana but may change its view if demand falls as a result of the government’s u-turn.
Safari specialist Somak is also still selling Botswana but said it would put the destination on stop-sell if hunting became commonplace.
Chief executive Ash Sofat said: “We do not support the practice of hunting and are quite clear that we actively discourage it.”
Luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent said it would do anything to promote sustainable tourism in the country.
A spokesman said: “Our clients travel to Botswana to connect with and celebrate, its abundant wildlife, diverse landscapes and thrilling experiences.
“As one of our most popular destinations, A&K will continue to do everything we can to promote sustainable tourism to this country.”