South Asia and Beyond

Botswana, Germany Deal With The Elephants In The Room

A simmering row between Botswana and Germany's Green Environment Minister Steffi Lemke over the southern African nation's controversial elephant hunting policies has led to a peculiar threat.
 Botswana, Germany Deal With The Elephants In The Room

File photo of Elephants in Savuti, Botswana.

In a move that has raised eyebrows and concerns about potential property damage, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi has issued a rather unusual threat to Germany – sending 20,000 elephants their way if they don’t back down from plans to ban hunting trophy imports.

“No joke,” Masisi told the German tabloid BILD, likely envisioning headlines of rampaging elephant herds trampling bratwurst stands across the country.

The root of this potential pachyderm invasion? A simmering row between Botswana and Germany’s Green Environment Minister Steffi Lemke over the southern African nation’s controversial elephant hunting policies.

With around 130,000 elephants roaming its lands, Botswana considers the animals a valuable “resource” and sees controlled hunting as a way to manage “overpopulation.” But Lemke, it seems, is having none of it, seeking to ban German hunters from importing their hard-earned trophies.

“It’s very easy to sit in Berlin and have an opinion about our affairs in Botswana,” grumbled Masisi, likely picturing Lemke sipping a hot beverage while being entirely unbothered by rampaging elephants decimating crops and villages.

Not one to make idle threats, the President revealed Botswana has already “rehomed” 8,000 elephants to Angola. “We would also like to make such an offer to the Federal Republic of Germany,” he declared. “We won’t take no for an answer.”

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Lest anyone think the elephants would be cruelly confined, Masisi assured “We want our elephants to roam freely. The German weather is bad enough for them.”

One can only imagine the reaction of German officials being informed their country may soon host a vast, freely roaming elephant population with Teutonic efficiency rapidly giving way to pandemonium.

Animal rights groups like PETA are backing Lemke, calling trophy hunting “a hobby of rich, jaded people who have more money than morals.” But Botswana argues the exorbitant fees paid by hunters help fund conservation efforts.

As the rhetoric escalates, perhaps all involved should consider a more moderate stance – such as Germany accepting a more reasonable number of Botswana’s excess elephants, and guaranteeing they they are housed in a suitably massive enclosure. Failing that, Lemke may want to start stockpiling peanuts – lots and lots of peanuts.

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