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‘Condescending’ UK anti-hunting bill is revival of ‘colonial conquest’, says Botswana president | UK News

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The president of Botswana has told Sky News an anti-hunting bill proposed by UK MPs is not only “condescending” but also a “resurgence of a colonial conquest”.

Ministers are to debate a proposed ban on UK safari hunters bringing body parts of animals they shoot, like tusks, back home.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi said he would be “abhorred, disappointed and disturbed” should the bill be passed, stressing the autonomy of Botswana as a democratic sovereign republic.

Speaking on The World With Yalda Hakim, Mr Masisi defended trophy hunting as “you pick which [animal] you hunt” whereas “culling” has a connotation of “ethical abhorrence” associated with it.

The president clarified that culling was the “indiscriminate elimination of a whole herd, mother, father and grandfather” – which was “not the same as hunting”.

Earlier, Botswana’s environment and tourism minister Dumezweni Mthimkhulu said “trophy hunting” was a way of controlling wild animal numbers in his country and a source of income for communities.

Politicians from African nations reportedly threatened to send 10,000 wild elephants to Hyde Park so British people know what it is like to live with them.

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‘Trophy hunting way of controlling elephants’

Asked if his country was really going to do this, Mr Mthimkhulu told Sky News’ Breakfast With Kay Burley it was a “rhetorical offer to the English” so they could understand the problems his people face.

He said elephant numbers in Botswana have almost “tripled” from 50,000 in 1984 to 130,000 in 2024 – causing “a lot of chaos”, with the animals in “constant conflict with humans”.

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He said scientists have advised the number that can be sustained in the natural habitat is 50,000.

Mr Mthimkhulu said the UK bill would be “counterproductive” and “discourage the people who are living with these animals from conserving and protecting them”.

He invited British politicians to “come and see” the “destruction” for themselves, adding he had been told former England footballer Gary Lineker is also in favour of a ban.

The Match Of The Day presenter previously branded the practice “truly abhorrent” in a social media post.

“I want to invite him to come to Botswana, so that he can really understand and see what is going on in the country with the elephants… with the trophy hunting,” Mr Mthimkhulu said.

African elephant (Loxodonta africana) walking in line, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana. (Sergio Pitamitz / VWPics via AP Images)
Pic:AP
Image:
Botwana says wild elephant numbers have almost tripled in the country during the last 40 years. Pic: VWPics/AP

The minister said he could not understand why some people in other countries find the pursuit abhorrent.

He said his government is supportive of trophy hunting because it is “controlled” and “good for our people”.

“Trophy hunting which is culling, is part of the way of the conservation of these animals,” he said.

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The minister said the numbers across all species in his country are going up every day, every year – not going down.

“It shows the conservation is going very well, and this conservation is done hand-in-hand with trophy hunting which helps the communities – it gives them a source of income,” he said.

He said to take that income away would “disincentivise” them from taking care of the wild animals and likely lead to demands for land – set aside for conservation – for farming and other income-generating activities.

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A ban on big game hunting was lifted in Botswana in 2019 amid claims elephant numbers were affecting small-scale farmers’ livelihoods.

In some parts of the country there are more elephants than people, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The bill to be debated by MPs on Friday is a Private Members Bill spearheaded by Labour MP John Spellar. It is not clear at this stage if the government will give it its backing.

A pledge to introduce a ban was in the Tory manifesto in 2019 and the government said late last year it was still committed to bringing one in.

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