Does Botswana Really Want To Send 20,000 Elephants To Germany?

Germany and Botswana have had something of an international argument this week, after Germany suggested it might seek a ban on the import of hunting trophies due to issues related to poaching. Botswana’s response? We’ll send you 20,000 elephants to “have a taste of living alongside them”.

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi said that the suggested stricter laws would only cause problems for the people of Botswana. He told German tabloid Bild the offer was “no joke,” to show Germany how to live together with elephants without hunting since they “don’t have the animals living in their backyard”.

Botswana is home to the world’s largest elephant population, some 130,000 (growing at around 6,000 a year), which regularly causes human-animal conflict due to the overpopulation of these large animals in spaces not big enough to accommodate both. The country has already sent 8,000 elephants to Angola and 500 to Mozambique in an effort to reduce numbers. 

“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 Dumezweni Mthimkhulu, reports BBC News.

While trophy hunting was banned in Botswana in 2014, the country lifted the laws in 2019, allowing foreigners to travel and shoot elephants under license with annual hunting quotas. It argues that it’s a form of population control and the vast sums of money tourists pay to shoot elephants (iNews suggests it can be up to $50,000) and other animals goes, at least partly, back into conservation practices and funding efforts to help save habitats and other species. 

This argument backs the idea that well-managed trophy hunting practices can be an effective tool to both help locals fight poverty and prevent poaching by doing it legally.  

However, animal welfare groups say the practice is cruel and detrimental to wildlife. Trophy hunting typically involves the hunting and killing of animals for sport and food. Hunters often pose with the carcasses or heads of the animals killed to demonstrate a successful hunt (who could forget Cecil the Lion?). According to the International Fund For Animal Welfare, the US alone accounts for 71 percent of imported trophy demand, while Germany and Spain are the next highest with 5 percent each. 

Botswana also threatened to send 10,000 elephants to London in March after UK MPs voted to support the Hunting Trophies Prohibition Bill, which has not passed into law yet. 

Overall, the issue is more nuanced than simply shipping elephants to different countries to see how they would fare. It remains to be seen whether a stricter ban on trophy hunting imports from elephants would be directly beneficial to the country it would arguably affect the most. 

Leave a Comment