Botswana and Germany are feuding over elephants

The Botswanan president has threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany as the rift continues

Elephants graze on a reserve in Botswana
Elephants drink at a waterhole in Botswana's Mashatu Game Reserve
(Image credit: Sergio Pitamitz / VW Pics / Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Germany is at odds with Botswana over a unique resource — Botswana's elephant population. After the German government announced it would seek to ban the importation of hunting trophies, Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany. "This is not a joke," Masisi said to German outlet Bild, adding that it was "very easy to sit in Berlin and have an opinion about our affairs in Botswana" and that his country was "paying the price for preserving these animals for the world."

The two countries have been embroiled in a dispute over how to handle Botswana's surging elephant population, which Masisi said to Bild numbers around 130,000. This growth in Botswana's elephant population is a net positive for the species' conservation efforts, but is also proving problematic for Botswana — elephants often damage the country's villages, destroy food supplies and sometimes kill humans. Allowing elephants to be hunted is an "important means to keep them in check," Masisi said, arguing that Germany's attempt to ban hunting trophies would cause Botswana further harm and claiming that sending 20,000 elephants to Germany would alleviate the pressure. 

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Justin Klawans, The Week US

 Justin Klawans has worked as a staff writer at The Week since 2022. He began his career covering local news before joining Newsweek as a breaking news reporter, where he wrote about politics, national and global affairs, business, crime, sports, film, television and other Hollywood news. Justin has also freelanced for outlets including Collider and United Press International.