The president of Botswana has threatened Germany with transferring up to 20,000 elephants, irritated to see Berlin criticizing the hunting of pachyderms and the export of trophies that his country practices, according to him, to regulate animal populations.

The Germans must “live with the animals as they try to dictate to us,” Botswana leader Mokgweetsi Masisi told German daily Bild in an article published online Tuesday (April 2). “It’s not a joke,” he added of his offer to resettle 20,000 pachyderms in the northern European country. We would like to give this gift to Germany,” specifying that he “would not accept no refusal.”

Botswana, a landlocked country in southern Africa, is home to the largest population of elephants in the world, around 130,000, with whom cohabitation is often difficult, according to the president, who cites attacks against humans, villages and crops. .

The remarks follow criticism from Germany’s environmentalist-led environment ministry of targeting elephant hunting trophies for wealthy Western clients. The ministry had raised earlier this year the possibility of more strictly limiting the import of these trophies due to poaching problems.

“Special responsibility”

“Within the EU, we are holding discussions with the aim of extending the requirement for import permits (…) to other hunting trophies of protected animals,” a source told AFP on Tuesday. spokesperson for the ministry.

As Germany is one of the largest importers of hunting trophies in the EU, it has “a special responsibility” in this regard, she added. Regarding the “gift” envisaged by President Masisi, the German environment ministry indicated that “Botswana had not yet made contact” with him on this subject.

In 2019, Gaborone lifted a total ban on hunting, introduced five years earlier to reverse the decline in populations of elephants and other species, favoring the important source of local income from commercial hunting. This lifting aroused the anger of environmental defenders.

Since then, Botswana sets a quota of animals that can be hunted each year. In 2023, the country also donated 8,000 elephants to Angola and 500 to Mozambique the previous year.