The safety of elephants in Botswana is once again under threat as Botswana’s Democratic Party takes steps to lift the hunting ban in return for rural votes in the looming election.
At present, it is illegal to hunt and kill elephants in the African nation however, sitting President Mogweesti Masisi recently said he would consider lifting a ban to allow trophy hunters and others to shoot elephants and turn them into canned pet food as a way to garner support in upcoming elections.
Opposition candidate Duma Boko is an ardent supporter of conservation and has heavily criticised President Masisi’s complete disregard for Botswana’s native elephant population which could be slaughtered in their thousands. He views the tactics as a dishonest and reckless way to collect more support at the polls from rural voters.
Botswana is currently a conservation haven for elephants and has the largest population of African elephants anywhere in the world with numbers currently standing at 130,000. African elephants are classed as vulnerable by the WWF following decades of conflict and poaching.
Once a refuge for the species amid a poaching crisis that brings money into rural communities, President Masisi intends to lift the ban to create an economic incentive for rural populations. With 2019 being an election year, he hopes the move will gain support for his ruling Botswana Democratic Party to remain in power.
The fate of the elephants is uncertain should President Masisi remain in his current role, but with the support of the public and animal lovers around the world, opposition candidate Duma Boko hopes to remove him from office. He plans to offer alternative strategies to help safeguard and protect Botswana’s elephant population.
A Harvard trained lawyer, Duma Boko is the leader of the UDC, the coalition of the opposition parties in Botswana. In 2014, his party won 54% of the popular vote, and it is anticipated that with additional support and funding, he will be a frontrunner for the presidency in October’s public vote.
His priorities, should he win the forthcoming election, include measures to safeguard elephants by stopping the cull, reducing human/animal conflict and implementing measures to better manage the elephant population with the help of conservationists.
He also aims to educate communities on the longer-term benefits of conservation and co-existence and allow them to benefit from the intelligent control of the species.
In order to support Mr Boko’s election campaign and safeguard the future of Botswana’s elephants, the UDC party is currently crowdfunding. Funds will be used to educate citizens against hunting and to challenge the current president’s position as the country takes to the polls in October.
To find out more about the campaign and to pledge support to stop the hunting and killing of elephants in Botswana visit https://www.gofundme.com/help-to-stop-the-killing-of-elephants-in-botswana