Botswana’s President Warns of Sending 20,000 Elephants to Germany

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Botswana’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi, has threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany over a conservation disagreement.

Earlier this year, Germany’s environment ministry proposed tighter restrictions on importing trophies from hunting animals.

Masisi warned German media that this would only impoverish his people.

He said that conservation initiatives had resulted in an increase in elephant populations, and that hunting had helped keep them under control.

Germans should “live together with the animals, in the way you are trying to tell us to”, Mr Masisi told German newspaper Bild. “This is no joke.”

Botswana is home to more than 130,000 elephants, which is almost one-third of the world’s elephant population, and exceeds its capacity.

Mr Masisi claimed that herds were damaging property, consuming crops, and trampling residents.

Botswana has already given 8,000 elephants to Angola and hundreds more to Mozambique as a strategy of reducing population.

“We would like to offer such a gift to Germany,” Mr Masisi said, adding that he would not take no for an answer.

Last month, Botswana’s Wildlife Minister, Dumezweni Mthimkhulu, threatened to send 10,000 elephants to London’s Hyde Park so British residents could “have a taste of living alongside” them.

UK MPs voted in March to support a ban on importing hunting trophies, but the legislature must go through further vetting before becoming law.

A pledge to ban the import of hunting trophies was included in the Conservatives’ 2019 general election manifesto.

Botswana and other southern African countries profit handsomely from wealthy Westerners who pay thousands of dollars for a permit to shoot an animal and then return home with its head or skin as a trophy.

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They say this money is used to help conservation efforts, and local people, so they are less likely to be tempted to poach the animals.

Animal rights group believe that it is a cruel practice and should be banned.

“In some areas, there are more of these beasts than people. They are killing children who get in their path. They trample and eat farmers’ crops leaving Africans hungry,” said Botswana’s wildlife minister.

According to the Humane Society International’s 2021 report, Germany is the EU’s leading importer of African elephant trophies and hunting trophies in general.

Botswana prohibited the practice in 2014, but reversed the prohibition in 2019 in response to local community outcry.

The country currently offers annual hunting quotas, claiming that it is licenced and closely regulated.

A spokesperson for the Berlin-based environment ministry said that Botswana hadn’t communicated any concerns regarding the issue to Germany.

“In light of the alarming loss of biological diversity, we have a special responsibility to do everything to ensure the import of hunting trophies is sustainable and legal,” she said.

The ministry is engaged in discussions with affected African nations, including Botswana, about import regulations.

Countries like Australia, France, and Belgium have implemented bans on hunting trophy trade.

Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia, have also advocated that ivory stockpiles should be sold so that the country might profit from its large elephant population.

Countries in East Africa, as well as animal rights organisations, have protested this, claiming it will increase poaching.

Melissa Enoch

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