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  • Writer's pictureBecky Faulks

Botswana Threatens to Send 20 Thousand Elephants to Germany

‘You try living with them’, president exclaims in anger over proposed hunting trophy import restrictions

In an unexpected move, Botswana has threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany during an argument about conservation. President Mokgweetsi Masisi has fired back at Berlin over its proposal to restrict the import of hunting trophies. He claims that the restrictions would ‘impoverish the country’ and that the EU should ‘mind its own business’.

Masisi claimed that elephant numbers had exploded as a result of conservation efforts and that hunting helped keep them in check. Botswana is currently home to130,000 elephants and has already sent thousands to nearby countries.

Dan Challender, conservation scientist at Oxford University, weighed in.

‘I think the president of Botswana is seeking to highlight the high cost of conserving megafauna species such as elephants,’ he said in an interview. ‘People in Botswana incur those costs through loss of life in some cases, damage to crops and damage to property. I think the idea of import bans from other countries is increasingly a diplomatic issue because it is something that is deeply emotional to the people of Southern Africa and is very important to them.’

Challender added that the idea that elephants would come to Europe was less realistic, but that sending them to neighbouring countries like Angola could be part of the solution. He claimed that the import bans being proposed by places like the EU were largely misguided, because trophy hunting was not a threat to a single species.

This news comes after a similar decision in the UK, which saw MPs unanimously vote to ban hunting trophy imports in the House of Commons. The bill, which was spearheaded by Crawley MP Henry Smith, was backed by African conservationists, who claimed that African people did not support trophy hunting, and that most of the money did not reach local communities anyway. Smith was also keen to stress that, as an import law, the ban was simply to reflect the wishes of the UK public, rather than impose UK will on African countries. He added that trophy hunting was a ‘neo-colonial import that was not a natural practice of the people of Southern Africa’.

In addition, although trophy hunting ‘does not target a single species’, it does often target vulnerable species. According to Born Free, the most iconic and expensive species to hunt are known as the Big Five: the lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros (both black and white), and Cape buffalo. Many of these species are already in crisis.’

The proposed bill has not yet passed, but ultimately, an import ban is designed to reflect the wishes of its home country. Earlier this year, Belgium made headlines for banning the import of many species at risk of extinction due to trade.


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