Moments after the president of Botswana lifted the ban on elephant hunting in Botswana, Ellen DeGeneres, a talk show host and celebrity from the United States, tweeted her opposition to the move. "President Masisi, for every person who wants to kill elephants, there are millions who want them protected. We’re watching. #BeKindToElephants @OfficialMasisi," she tweeted. Well, Batswana were not happy with her tweet.
"Dear Ellen, please spare us your ignorance. Not once have you come to Botswana to witness the human-wildlife conflict that we experience, let alone come & spend your millions here so that we whose lives are affected by elephants can benefit. FYI: our country is not a zoo!" One user tweeted in response in a tweet that garnered close to a thousand likes and hundreds of retweets.
Another user wrote, "Rest assured, Ellen, we are not doing a genocide on elephants. We just want to control the numbers and we will always have elephants here. We have co-existed with them long before you discovered your true sexuality. We are damn good at conservation."
Human-wildlife conflict in Botswana
A government subcommittee tasked by President Masisi found that conflicts between humans and elephants had risen, harming livestock and the livelihoods of Botswana's people. The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism referred to elephants as predators and said their numbers "appear to have increased."
Amongst the measures recommended to deal with this issue were "regular but limited elephant culling", establishment elephant meat canning, including for the production of pet food and other byproducts, as well as creating a legal framework to help grow Botswana's safari hunting industry.
The government accepted all recommendations except the regular culling of elephants and the establishment of meat canning. "This was rejected because culling is not considered acceptable given the overall continental status of elephants. Rather, a more sustainable method such as selective cropping should be employed," the government said.
The lifting of the ban put in place by Masisi's predecessor, Ian Khama, in 2014 has been met with widespread opposition by conservatives around the world, including those in Africa. Paula Kahumbu, CEO of the Kenya-based WildlifeDirect, is one such African.
"Horrific beyond imagination," Kahumbu said, "hunting is an archaic way to address the problems of living with megafauna. Africa, we are better than this," she tweeted.
However, while others are opposed to the lifting of the ban, Batswana have met it with praise and took to social media to defend it.
One user stated, "Botswana is truly a victim of its conservation success and commendable record. People like @yashar and TheEllenShow are only interested in the narrative that suits their skewed world view of Africans."
Botswana has long been used as an example of wildlife conservation success. A press release from 2009 praises conservation efforts in Botswana saying "Botswana shows the way".
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