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Botswana threatens to send 20,000 elephants to Germany

By Jonathan Powell in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-04-04 19:38
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The leader of Botswana has threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany following a disagreement over trophy imports and poaching concerns.

Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi was critical of the German federal government after it proposed stricter limits on importing animal hunting trophies earlier this year.

The president argued that conservation efforts in Botswana had resulted in a surge in the elephant population, and pointed out that hunting plays an important role in keeping the elephant population in check.

Botswana prohibited trophy hunting in 2014 but in 2019 it revoked the ban due to local community pressure. The country now allocates annual hunting quotas.

Speaking to German daily newspaper Bild on Tuesday, Masisi said elephant herds were causing property damage, consuming crops, and endangering residents.

"It is very easy to sit in Berlin and have an opinion about our affairs in Botswana. We are paying the price for preserving these animals for the world," he said.

Masisi said Botswana is now home to 130,000 elephants and suggested Germans might like to "live together with the animals, in the way you are trying to tell us to".

"This is not a joke," he added.

In an effort to address what the president calls "overpopulation", Botswana recently offered 8,000 elephants to Angola and 500 to Mozambique, reported The Guardian newspaper.

Botswana officials previously opposed a proposed United Kingdom ban on trophy imports by safari hunters and threatened to send 10,000 elephants to Hyde Park in London.

"We would also like to make such an offer to the Federal Republic of Germany," announced Masisi. "We won't take no for an answer."

Animal rights organization PETA is supporting Germany's proposal to limit and potentially eliminate trophy imports and has condemned the practice as "a hobby of rich, jaded people who have more money than morals".

"The horrendous sums that amateur hunters spend on a hunting trip do not end up with the poor population or with a national park administration, but almost exclusively in the pockets of tour operators and hunting farm owners," a PETA spokesperson told news website Politico.

The spokesperson urged Botswana to prohibit trophy hunting completely and shift to revenue generation through wildlife tourism.

A spokesperson from the Berlin environment ministry told the Agence France-Presse news service that Botswana had not raised any official objections to Germany regarding the issue, adding that it was continuing dialogue with African nations impacted by import regulations, including Botswana.

"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.

Elephant hunting trophies require import authorization under current rules in Germany, and ongoing European Union discussions on stricter import rules aim to expand protection for additional species, she said.

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