Botswana threatens to send 20,000 elephants to Germany in trophy hunting row | Botswana

Botswana’s president has threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany amid a dispute over the import of hunting trophies.

Earlier this year Germany’s environment ministry raised the possibility of stricter limits on the import of hunting trophies over poaching concerns. But a ban on the import of hunting trophies would only impoverish Botswanans, Mokgweetsi Masisi told German daily Bild.

The African leader argued that conservation efforts have led to an explosion in the number of elephants and that hunting is an important means to keep them in check. Botswana banned trophy hunting in 2014 but lifted the restrictions in 2019 under pressure from local communities. The country now issues annual hunting quotas.

Herds of elephants were causing damage to property, eating crops and trampling residents, Masisi told the German paper.

“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.

Germans should “live together with the animals, in the way you are trying to tell us to”.

“This is not a joke,” said Masisi, whose country has seen its elephant population grow to some 130,000.

Botswana, home of the world’s largest elephant population, has already offered 8,000 elephants to Angola and another 500 to Mozambique, as it seeks to tackle what Masisi described as “overpopulation”. Officials in March also threatened to send 10,000 elephants to London.

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

A spokesperson for the environment ministry in Berlin said Botswana had not raised any concerns with Germany on the matter.

The ministry remained in talks with African countries affected by import rules, including Botswana, the spokesperson said.

“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.

Germany was one of the largest importers of hunting trophies in the European Union, she said.

African elephant hunting trophies already require import authorisation under current rules, she added.

Discussions within the EU on harsher import restrictions are focused on extending the list of protected species, she said.

With Agence France-Presse

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