6 March 2019

Botswana: Warning to 'Racists!'

To them we are not humans; they talk as if we are trees. To them we are just living in a big zoo and they are its keepers - Masisi

President Mokgweetsi Masisi has come hard on some international conservationists who have condemned Botswana government for its decision to consider the Hunting Ban recommendations.

Addressing the media during a Media brunch meeting at State House 2, President Masisi didn't mince words labeling some of them as racists.

"It really startled me that people sitting in their comfort home and lecture us about the management of species they don't have and admire from a distance and in their admiration they fail to appreciate that we are also species. They talk as if we are trees! To them we are just living in a big zoo and they are its keepers," he hit out.

Joubert and his enablers

Though he didn't mention names, one of the people who have been condemning the proposed recommendation on lifting the hunting ban is business partner to former President Ian Khama, Dereck Joubert.

Jourbet, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Great Plains Conservation and Great Plains Foundation, labeled the proposed recommendations as 'Blood Law'.

Jourbet said their beautiful Botswana is under siege and called on the international community to stand up and fight the suggested recommendation. "At first, I thought it was a cruel April Fools' Day announcement, but no one is laughing today. I have given this white paper a name and if it passes I believe it should be called 'Botswana's Blood Law', said Joubert in a statement.

"Our pledge to you, industry partners and guests, is that we will do whatever we can to engage legally and respectfully to make sure this 'Blood Law' is not passed in Botswana," said Joubert with a sting of entitlement.

Hitting back, Masisi said labeling the recommendation as 'blood law' is a smack of racism.

"In fact I can smell it, it is a racism onslaught on us," he said adding that some of the people who are pushing the agenda are beneficiaries of Botswana tourism.

Jourbet is a personal friend of former President Khama and they are business partners in the tourism industry.

Tourism beneficiaries

"Some of them are the biggest beneficiaries of own generosity when we give them part of our land to own concession and that land could have been to a Motswana or adding economic value to us," taking the onslaught to Jourbet.

Khama presented Joubert and his wife with a Presidential Order of Meritorious in September 2016 for, "both their conservation work and the outstanding impact that their films and books and appearances have brought to Botswana". Filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert own the Selinda Camp and Concessions. Selinda Camp is part of Wilderness Safaris Limited.

On the population of elephants, President Masisi said that the 2011 Elephant Management Survey estimated that Botswana's carrying capacity for elephants was 54 000 but currently has an estimated population of over 180 000 - 70% of which are outside their designated area.

"The closest they got to a human settlement was in Phakalane," he said.

In May last year one elephant was spotted in Phakalane - a few kilometres from Gaborone, causing a stir. They have also been spotted in the far south and east areas where they have never been seen before.

He said the interesting facts related to the issue elephants, creating a story because they have broadened the geographic space and when they interact in a very destructive manner and humans are always losers.

"Elephants undermine human economic activity and the investment by government, especially food subsidies is undermined by elephants," he declared.

Though Masisi didn't go into stating what action they are likely to take against foreigners who attempt to control Botswana tourism interests for their own benefit, it is expected that strong action shall be taken against those pushing this agenda.

Come and take them!

"I want you to join me in offering them taking just 20 elephants, let them roam free and let them multiply and impose a hunting ban on them," he said, suggesting that they should also feel the joy and inconvenience of living with wild animals. This, he said, was not to mean that they were inimical to the critics.

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