Botswana President Threatens to Send 20,000 Elephants to Germany in Trophy Hunting Dispute

Apr 10, 2024

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi is threatening to send 20,000 elephants from his southern African nation to Germany. It comes amid a dispute over proposed new bans on trophy hunting imports by the European nation. 

Trophy hunting is the killing of big game animals for sport and not food. The “trophies” earned by hunters are body parts. They include hides, heads, and elephant tusks. The latter are quite prized. Elephant ivory fetches up to $3,300 per pound. And it's used in many products. 

Animal rights activists have long decried the practice as cruel.

Belgium’s parliament aims to protect endangered species, such as southern white rhinos. It voted in January to ban trophy hunting imports.     

But Botswana’s savanna elephants are not endangered. The nation is home to roughly a third of the world’s total numbers. At present, this total is 130,000. That's three times more than four decades ago. The country banned trophy hunting in 2014. But the nation restored it with a quota system five years later.    

Masisi argues that increased elephant numbers are wreaking havoc on human life in his country. Herds are wrecking property and crops. They're sometimes gravely harming people, too. Masisi insists that trophy hunting is a vital conservation practice. He claims it controls the elephant population. 

It is very easy to sit in Berlin and have (a belief) about our affairs in Botswana. We are paying the price for preserving these (creatures) for the world,” Masisi said. He added that Germans should live with the animals "in the way you are trying to tell us to."

Mary Rice is director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, an NGO. Rice spoke to CNN about Masisi’s pledge. Rice called it “a rather empty threat.” 

Reflect: What challenges might human communities face when coexisting with elephants?

GIF of elephant courtesy @natgeochannel on GIPHY.

Which of the following statements would a critic of trophy hunting in Botswana most likely agree with? (Common Core RI.5.9; RI.6.9)
a. Trophy hunting helps control the elephant population and supports conservation efforts.
b. Trophy hunting is an inhumane practice that should be banned globally.
c. Elephants are not endangered in Botswana, so trophy hunting should not be a concern.
d. Selling elephant tusks is a profitable way to support the local economy.
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