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Horton hears a diplomatic snafu

​African elephants drinking at waterhole in Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.

African elephants drinking at waterhole in Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.


Let’s talk about the elephant(s) in the room — all 20,000 — that Botswana’s leader is publicly threatening to unleash on German soil. President Mokgweetsi Masisi issued this warning after Berlin’s environment ministry, in the name of conservation, weighed a ban on hunting trophy imports from Africa: “If you like [elephants] so much, then please accept this gift from us.”

Masisi’s side: Botswana is home to over 130,000 elephants, more than any other country in the world. Herds can cause property damage, eat crops, and even trample residents, and Masisi says hunting is necessary to control the exploding population. Banning the trophies would also contribute to poverty, he said, as hunting can be an important source of income for rural communities.

Germany’s side: Animal rights groups argue that hunting elephants is cruel and should be banned, regardless of population size. A PETA spokesperson went so far as to say that hunting is merely “a hobby of rich, jaded people who have more money than morals.” Plus, the German Association for Animal Welfare insists that hunts exacerbate societal inequalities in communities instead of diminishing them.

What’s next: While Masisi assured that this “is not a joke,” German officials say Gaborone has “not yet contacted” them to discuss sending Dumbos to Deutschland.


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