BY VICTOR BAATWENG
As the war on Botswana elephants between locals and government on one side and a group of international “conservationists” on the other continues, the President – Mokgweetsi Masisi has accused the other camp of being racist.
“They talk as if we are trees and grass that elephants eat……I can smell it, It’s a racist’s onslaught”, Masisi said on Friday at the State House II in the capital Gaborone.
Masisi, who took much time of his address to journalists and editors talking about the “elephants story”, said that the behaviour of the international animal activists speaks to how they perceive Batswana.
“This speaks to the value of those people, what they think of us and how they views us. There are no human beings here. It is a big zoo and they are the keepers of the zoo”, Masisi said.
He added, “…….and yet those people, some of them are some of the biggest beneficiaries of our own generosity when we gave them part of our land as concessions. We have sacrificed that. That concession could be owned by a Motswana if it were to be a concession or could be doing something that helps promote the development of Batswana”.
Masisi’s sentiments comes at a time when the story on Botswana’s intention to lift the 2014 hunting ban continues to break the internet, more especially social media site ÔÇô Twitter.
The much talked about topic relating to thousands of Botswana elephants comes after a subcommittee advised the government to lift the ban on trophy hunting and introduce “regular but limited elephant culling” to manage local populations.
The move comes amid growing tension over the nation’s elephant population, with some arguing that the number of elephants has grown and that the animals are damaging crops.
While a number of self proclaimed conservationists including Dereck Jourbert took it to the internet to bash Botswana on the decision, President Masisi has also defended the recommendations.
Speaking at ruling party event held in Tlokweng village recently, Masisi said he will not be intimidated by animal activists who have launched a crusade against Botswana.
“I run a consultative government. We have a problem with human-wildlife conflict. I never said we will go all out and kill all elephants in Botswana,” Masisi said.
He revealed that he has offered his critics some of the elephants and “they are welcome to help us reduce their population.
While Masisi is standing his ground on the matter, those in the other end also seem to be hell bent to ensure that Botswana suffers from its decision.
Already an online petition led by a Twitter page running under the handle – @CBTHunting (Campaign to ban Trophy Hunting) has been circulated amongst millions of online recipients.
“We strongly urge His Excellency Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana, to keep the current ban on the trophy hunting of elephants in place.
Trophy hunting brings a cruel death for the target animal, and does little to benefit local communities or support wildlife conservation.
Elephant populations have fallen dramatically in recent years, including in neighbouring countries where trophy hunting is permitted”, reads part of the online petition.