REINSTATE BOTSWANA'S BAN ON ELEPHANT TROPHY HUNTING!

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Heidi Jo Markel
Heidi Jo Markel signed this petition

Five years ago, Botswana became the preeminent leader of ecotourism in Africa after they banned trophy hunting. Despite the unprecedented increase in tourism dollars since the ban, PRESIDENT MASISI HAS REVERSED THE POLICY AND NOW TROPHY HUNTERS WILL PUT CRITICALLY ENDANGERED ELEPHANTS AT RISK OF EXTINCTION!

In May 2018, newly elected President Masisi immediately disarmed the Anti-Poaching Units, leaving them defenseless. The result of this was the GREATEST ELEPHANT MASSACRE OF ALL TIMES (87) by poachers. Masisi made this decision immediately after the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in early September. China is the #1 consumer of ivory in the world. Masisi looks to strengthen Botswana’s relationship with China, at the potential expense of the remaining elephant population. Recently, he displayed his disdain for conservation by gifting “elephant feet” stools to other African leaders.

As highly intelligent sentient beings, elephants have been migrating to find sanctuary in Botswana, which now holds 1/3 of the elephants remaining in Africa. Elephants are a keystone species known as “the great land architects;” they protect the ecosystem by creating water trenches for other animals and planting trees on their migration routes. By hosting trophy hunters and granting 400 elephant killing licenses, Botswana will attract the lowest level of humanity who kill animals for sport, as well as destroy its former reputation as a global conservation leader.

Trophy hunting animals does not conserve wildlife. In fact, hunting critically endangered animals leads to extinction. Additionally, innocent animals suffer horrific, painful deaths and the accidental death rate of locals and tourists by random gunshots escalates.

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION and urge President Masisi not to turn his back on these incredible creatures for political reasons and to make a quick buck!!! The long term impact will be devastating to the global environment, his own economy, this incredible species, and his country’s legacy!

BACKGROUND:

Botswana had made great strides in conservation during their five year hunting ban instated under the last president, Ian Khama. Under Khama's leadership, Botswana was one of the four founding countries of the Giants Club (along with Gabon, Kenya, and Uganda) whose mission was to protect at least half of Africa’s remaining elephants by 2020. Because of these marked efforts in promoting sustainable practices, Botswana had become a leader in Africa’s ecotourism industry and had seen a steady increase in its GDP from travel and tourism. In 2018, the sector grew 3.4% and contributed $2.52 billion to the country’s economy which continues to create jobs for its citizens. Since 2013, tourism’s contribution to Botswana’s GDP has grown by almost 70%, proving that the hunting ban effectively increased tourism dollars.*

Masisi and the Botswana government are making the argument that elephants are eating farmers’ crops. However, the World Wildlife Fund’s Eco-exist Program in Botswana shows that when farmers’ crops are a half mile from the elephants’ migratory routes, their crops are statistically almost unaffected. This plan has been WORKING for the four years it has been implemented, which has led to more sustainability overall for the farmers; a fact Masisi refuses to publicly acknowledge.

Former President Khama has stated that Masisi’s lifting of the hunting ban is “solely political.” Masisi is attempting to win over voters by masking his intentions using the farmer’s of Botswana, while simultaneously lobbying to DECRIMINALIZE the ivory trade! He has incrementally rolled out legislation that reduces protection of elephants. The press release made by Masisi, the Ministry of Environment, and the Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism board even stated that they were going to allow 800 tusks of ivory for export. The ivory trade is the single most detrimental market for the elephant population.

Masisi has also gone to the extent of attempting to pay a top Hollywood public relations firm $125,000.00 to put a positive spin on the trophy hunting of elephants. If he truly cares about the people of Botswana, instead of spending his country's money hiring a PR firm, he should spend it on organizations like the WWF’s Eco-exist Program to ensure his country’s sustainable future. The latter approach would secure Botswana a seat on the most respected stage of global conservation, creating a safe haven for the planet's elephants that in turn would create an attractive environment for tourism and new business opportunities.

Per global UN statistics, currently one elephant is slaughtered every 26 minutes. The remaining 32% of the entire elephant population resides in Botswana.

Botswana is one of the most successful African nations that still has elephants in the wild, which is why tourists had flocked to this country. With 38% of its land officially protected, Botswana had a sterling reputation for having the best unspoiled wilderness on the planet including the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site also called “The Last Eden” and the Chobe National Park, famous for its large herds of elephants. Many elephants from neighboring countries flocked to Botswana as a safe haven, intuitively knowing their herds were protected there.

If Masisi and his collaborating offenders of nature and humanity do not respond to altruism, hopefully they will respond to economic sanctions and world wide contempt for their barbarous return to killing God’s most majestic creatures.

*World Travel & Tourism Council: Economic Impact 2018 Botswana