Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday blasted Western countries for their outburst over Botswana’s plan to lift a hunting ban and allow an elephant cull.
Botswana is “a sovereign state and do not have to be arm twisted by the western countries,” said Masisi in an interview with Xinhua during his stopover at the Francistown International Airport in Botswana’s second largest city on transit to Zimbabwe.
The United States and Britain criticized Botswana’s move before threatening to boycott the southern African country, which is mulling lifting the hunting ban and culling elephants to make pet food.
The hunting ban was introduced by Botswana’s former President Seretse Khama Ian Khama in 2014.
Masisi argued that the ban was introduced without any meaningful consultations, and the country had to reconsider it.
The president said the problem with western countries is that “they are talking elephant issues as if there are no people (in Botswana).”
“I said to them that we will give you just 200 elephants in England and let them roam all over as you want them to do in Botswana,” he said.
Botswana is home to an estimated 130,000 elephants, the largest population in the world.
The country has long been hailed as a safe refuge for the giant mammals, but the human-wildlife conflict incidents are on the rise as elephants raid agricultural crops and sometimes kill people.