Botswana threatens to send 20,000 elephants to roam free in Germany

Elephants trudging around Checkpoint Charlie, stomping through Brandendberg Gate, hosing themselves down with water from the Spree river. Sounds whimsical! Like something from a magical realism novel! But realistically, if you stop and put your thinking hat on, consider what a huge burden 20,000 elephants would be. Imagine fixing the infrastructural damage taken from parades of elephants trudging about Berlin. While it's a funny spectacle to consider from the comfort of the home office, Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi insists that this isn't an idle threat. "Twenty thousand elephants for Germany, this is not a joke." So why would he threaten Germany with mammals of unusual size?

Earlier this year, Germany, one of the largest importers of hunting trophies in the European Union, raised the possibility of stricter limits on imports due to poaching concerns.

[…]Herds of elephants are causing property damage, eating crops and trampling residents, the president argued. A ban on the import of hunting trophies would exacerbate the problem and impoverish Botswanans, he claimed.

Al Jazeera

Seems complicated, as hunting matters generally are, but Germans have never had to deal with elephant overpopulation, if that's exactly what's going on. Perhaps this threat will allow for reconsideration over in Europe.

"It is very easy to sit in Berlin and have an opinion about our affairs in Botswana. We are paying the price for preserving these animals for the world – and even for Lemke's party," Masisi said.

Germans should try to "live together with the animals, in the way you are trying to tell us to," he added.

According to Masisi, Botswana has seen its elephant population grow to some 130,000.

Nadine Schmidt, Sarah Dean and Ingrid Formanek, CNN

Previously: Elephants evolving to be born without tusks thanks to ruthless poachers