Botswana's president has threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany

“It's not a joke”, explains Mokweetsi Masisi, adding that he “won't take no for an answer” for this “gift”.

Botswana's president threatened Germany this Tuesday to send 20,000 elephants over Berlin's criticism of pachyderm hunting and the export of trophies, which the country uses to regulate the animal's population.

Germans “have to live with the animals that try to dictate to us,” Botswana's President Mokwetsi Masisi said in a statement to the German daily Bild published today.

“This is not a joke,” he clarified regarding his proposal to transfer 20,000 pachyderms to a European country, adding that he “cannot accept an answer” to this “gift.”

Botswana, a landlocked country in southern Africa, is home to the world's largest population of elephants, about 130,000 specimens, according to the president, who cited attacks on people, villages and cultures that often make it difficult for them to coexist.

The criticism by the German environment ministry, which is run by environmentalists, is aimed at elephant hunting trophies bought by wealthy Western customers.

Earlier this year, the ministry raised the possibility of imposing stricter limits on the import of these trophies due to poaching problems.

“Within the European Union (EU), we are discussing the possibility of extending the requirement of import authorization (…) from protected animals to other hunting trophies,” a ministry spokesman told Agence France-Presse (AFP) today.

Germany is one of the biggest importers of hunting trophies in the EU, so it has “a special responsibility” in this regard, the spokesman added.

Regarding the “gift” announced by Masisi, the German environment ministry said, “Botswana has not yet been contacted on this matter”.

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In 2019, Botswana lifted a total hunting ban, introduced five years ago to replace dwindling populations of elephants and other species.

Since then, Botswana has decided on quotas of game animals each year, with commercial hunting being the main source of local income.

Lifting the ban drew criticism from conservationists.

Last year, the country provided 8,000 elephants to Angola.

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