“Not A Joke”: Botswana Threatens To Send Thousands Of Elephants To Germany – NDTV

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Botswana is home to the world’s largest elephant population. (Representative pic)

Botswana has threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany amid a dispute over the import of hunting trophies. According to The Guardian, the dispute between the two countries began earlier this year when Germany’s environment ministry, citing concerns about poaching, suggested imposing stricter limits on the import of hunting trophies. Notably, Germany is the European Union’s (EU) chief importer of African elephant trophies, as per a 2021 report by the Humane Society International. A ban on the import of hunting trophies would only impoverish Botswana, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Tuesday. 

The African leader argued that conservation efforts have led to an explosion in the number of elephants and increased man-animal conflict. Hunting is an important means to keep them in check, Mr Masisi said, as per the outlet

Botswana, home to the world’s largest elephant population, banned trophy hunting in 2014 but lifted the restrictions in 2019 under pressure from local communities. Now, the country issues annual hunting quotas. 

On Tuesday, Mr Masisi said that in recent years elephant herds have been trampling people and destroying homes and crops. “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.

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Mr Maisi also said Germans should “live together with the animals, in the way you are trying to tell us to”. “This is not a joke,” he added. 

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Previously, Botswana had offered to send 8,000 elephants to Angola and 500 to Mozambique to deal with the “overpopulation”. Mr Masisi said he would “like to offer such a gift to Germany” and “not take no for an answer”.

The African leader went on to criticise the German government. “We want our elephants to roam freely. The German weather is bad enough for them,” he added. “If you like them so much, then please accept this gift from us,” he said. 

A spokesperson for the German environment ministry said Botswana had not raised any concerns with Germany on the matter. However, environment minister Steffi Lemke “signalled that she will accept Botswana’s invitation if an opportunity arises” to inspect wildlife protection, as per The Independent

Meanwhile, in March, Botswana had threatened to send 10,000 elephants to Hyde Park in London in protest against a potential UK ban on safari hunters importing trophies.

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