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Diplomatic Tension and 20,000 Elephants: What’s Going on Between Botswana and Germany?

Two Elephants drinking water from a waterhole. Image by Michael M on Pexels.

Thanks to conservation efforts, Botswana has experienced a significant upsurge in elephant populations. Although, according to its president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, this isn’t as good as it sounds.

Botswana’s wildlife minister highlighted their troubles, “In some areas, there are more of these beasts than people. They are killing children who get in their path. They trample and eat farmers’ crops, leaving Africans hungry.”


Elephant Spraying Water. Image by fouroaks via Depositphotos

Over 130,000 elephants reside within their borders, accounting for about a third of the world’s elephant population. And unlike their local leopards and lions, which are experiencing an opposite trend in numbers, these abnormally large animals require ample room to roam. They’re also renowned for trampling residents, damaging property, and feasting on crops.

Unfortunately, as the population rises, so do the amount of problems. You don’t want to come in-between a matriarch foraging food for her young, in this instance, nature must run its course. 

They’re unmovable creatures, like a colossal carcass of concrete. But, with the help of tranquilizer darts, Mr. Masisi hopes to ship thousands away in a bid to control the population and protect everything from resources to people. It seems he is treating this a matter of national security.

He’s already given 8,000 elephants to Angola and is hopeful to offload hundreds more to Mozambique.

The Discussion

Baby Elephant Running
Baby Elephant Running. Image by fouroaks via Depositphotos

So, where does Germany come into this? It all spurred after their environment ministry called for stricter legislation on importing trophies from hunting animals, which Botswana is renowned for. 

The African president hit back, telling German media that their call for action would only impoverish his people, later stating, “this is no joke”. 

His pragmatic response, which has an element of humor and gravitas, is gifting them 20,000 elephants, stating that he would not take no for an answer. German newspaper Bild. quoted him saying that Germans should “live together with the animals, in the way you are trying to tell us to”.

Perhaps his comments are more serious than funny.

elephants on the savannah
Image by Dick Hoskins via Pexels

It isn’t the first time President Mokgweetsi Masisi has retaliated against nations opposing his poaching laws. A month before, he threatened to import 10,000 elephants to London’s Hyde Park so the British could “have a taste of living alongside” them.

There was a time between 2014 and 2019 when Botswana banned trophy hunting, a term associated with hunting wildlife, which usually entails taking the ivory, head, and skin home. 


Elephants playing at the watering hole. Image by gudkovandrey via Depositphotos

Before legislation was imposed, it was a cash cow for locals, earning them hundreds of dollars a day. That’s why, after five years of backlash from local communities, they revoked their previously rescined law, allowing trophy hunting to return. 

Thank you for reading

Elephant in Tsavo. Image via Byrdyak, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This evoked disapproval from many Western sovereigns, but nothing has changed; there seems to be a higher chance that thousands of elephants will turn up at some country’s harbor.

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