Kasane -Not one to miss out on an opportunity to criticize US President Donald Trump, President Ian Khama was at it again this Friday accusing the Trump Administration of undermining Botswana’s conservation efforts.
Speaking at the Giants Club Summit that wrapped up this past weekend in Kasane, Khama’s response comes in the wake of the Trump Administration’s decision to begin issuing permits for the importation of elephant trophies from African countries.
“I want to take this opportunity to condemn in the strongest possible terms the decision by the Trump Administration to issue a memorandum stating that the US will start issuing permits for importation of elephant trophies from six African countries that include Botswana.” Khama accused the US of undermining Botswana’s efforts by encouraging poaching in the process, saying they are well aware of legislation that prohibits trophy hunting in Botswana. “How do you explain the import of elephant trophies from Botswana while we have a ban on hunting,” Khama said. He said the US were not only undermining efforts by Botswana but other concerned countries as well. He said while the Trump Administration said it would issue the permits on a case by case basis the memorandum purports that the Endangered Species Act is no longer an effective tool for assessing individual permit applications. The President stopped short of accusing the US of supporting and aiding terrorism through the decision. “This decision defeats the very efforts of the international community aim towards arresting scourges such as terrorism because poaching has proved to be one of the sources for funding terrorism,’ Khama, said, adding “It is a pity that we have come to live with these inconsistencies thanks to the Trump administration.”
The import of elephant trophies was banned during the Obama Administration under the Endangered Species Act but the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced in 2017 it would lift the ban.
The ban was eventually lifted earlier this month following pressure for hunting advocates and the US’ National Rifle Association (NRA) to allow the import of trophies on case-by-case basis.
“Hunters argue that the trophies actually aid in elephant conservation: The fees they pay to governments for the permits to hunt are supposed to be fed back into conservation efforts. And in its latest memo, Fish and Wildlife says that the case-by-case decisions will be determined to ensure that the [hunting] program is promoting the conservation of the species,” the US media reported. Addressing the media in Kasane on Friday, Minister of Tourism Tshekedi Khama said the best Botswana and other concerned African countries can do is to hope pressure groups put enough pressure on the Trump Administration to rescind the decision.
Space for Giants, which is behind the ongoing Giants Club Summit, protects Africa’s elephants from immediate threats like poaching while working to secure their habitats forever in landscapes facing greatly-increasing pressures.
“We use innovative, proven interventions to confront acute issues like the ivory trade and long-term challenges such as balancing the needs of wildlife and growing human populations. We seek solutions rooted in the wisdom of people who understand wildlife best, because they study it, or live alongside it, or both. And we understand long-term success depends on creating economic and social benefits for the people who share their environment with wildlife,” the organisation says.