Clearly, President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana supports the trophy hunting of elephants and the killing of elephants for their ivory in his country because he has been photographed handing gifts of elephant feet stools to his counterparts from Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The West is trying to stop the trophy hunting and the killing of elephants for their tusks while the leaders of the countries where these elephants live are pulling in the opposite direction. It has been like that for a very long time. On the African continent the leaders of these countries see the elephant as an asset to be exploited and this objective is supported by the growing human-elephant conflict due to human population growth. In the long term there is no place for the elephant.
In Botswana, there are one 130,000 elephants. With an expanding human population there is bound to be an increased risk of human-elephant conflict. This inevitably leads to an excuse, a reason to allow trophy hunting and to restart the trade in ivory. There is a current ban on the sale of ivory in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe and perhaps other countries on the African continent.
Elephant poaching is a major news topic nowadays in the West. It is believed that 30,000 elephants are killed annually and around 450,000 left in the wild.
The previous president of Botswana believed in conservation it seems to me but the incumbent president who came into office last year has changed elephant conservation policy of the country.
Apparently those strong rural support for lifting the ban on hunting reflecting the conflict between humans and elephants. The authorities in Botswana say that allowing sport hunting and the sale of ivory will raise funds for conservation projects. We have heard this before and frankly we don’t believe it because monies from these commercial activities does not find its way back to conservation. Killing elephants will also impact the tourism trade negatively.
Comment: as soon as you compromise the ban on the ivory trade or allow American trophy hunters to shoot elephants for their entertainment you open the door for more. You can’t compromise on something like this. It has to be an absolute ban on both trophy hunting and killing elephants for their tusks. And it has to be enforced properly. The truth of the matter is that this will not happen. Enforcement will be inadequate. This will always be the case. The prognosis is bad. The commercial pressures to exploit what African leaders regard as an asset outweigh the desire of the West to protect the elephant.
Indeed, it could be argued that the West have no right to interfere because of their history of killing wild species is as bad if not worse. We can’t lecture Africans. The only problem is that these days extinction of the species is real whereas in years gone by there was no concept of the possibility of making animals extinct through hunting and exploitation. That changes the perspective on the relationship between animal and human.