Botswana is not joking about exiling 20,000 elephants to Germany

Botswana is threatening to send thousands of elephants to Germany.

Botswana is threatening to send thousands of elephants to Germany. Photo: Anadolu via Getty

Botswana has threatened to send thousands of elephants to Germany following a spat over limits on importing hunting trophies.

Earlier this year, Germany’s Minister of the Environment Steffi Lemke announced the Greens intended to restrict the import of hunting trophies of protected species.

Although Australia has banned the import of endangered lions, rhinos and elephant trophies, the BBC reported that Germany is the biggest importer of African elephant trophies in the European Union.

Between 2014 to 2018, the EU imported 15,000 hunting trophies from 73 internationally protected species, Humane Society International reported.

Just three European countries, Germany, Spain and Denmark accounted for 52 per cent of all imported trophies in the world in that time.

However, Botswana has a somewhat of a unique problem.

Thanks to years of protecting elephants, the country simply has too many elephants now, with about 130,000 in total.

Trophy hunting was banned in Botswana in 2014, but that ban lifted in 2019, due to pressure from local communities.

There are annual hunting quotas in the country which, in turn, benefit the community.

An African elephant calf, Loxodonta africana, protected by the females of a breeding herd. Chobe National Park, Botswana.

Botswana has an elephant overpopulation problem. Photo: Getty

The gift Botswana wants Germany to accept

In response to a potential ban from Germany, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi told German tabloid Bild he was “dead serious” about sending over 20,000 elephants.

The 20,000 elephants would be a “gift”, Masisi said.

It is very easy to sit in Berlin and have an opinion about our affairs in Botswana,” Masisi told Bild.

“We are paying the price for preserving these animals for the world – and even for Lemke’s party.”

He reportedly claimed the ban would promote poverty and poaching in Botswana and said people in his country were being trampled to death by elephants.

“If you like them so much, then please accept this gift from us,” Masisi reportedly said.

Botswana already has given 8000 elephants to Angola and more were pledged to Mozambique a few years ago.

It appears Masisi’s offering was only extended through Bild, as Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment has not been contacted on the matter, according to Politico.

However, Lemke has reportedly signalled she would accept an invitation to inspect wildlife protection in Botswana if the opportunity arises.

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