Wil­liam sup­ports re­vival of ele­phant hunts – pres­i­dent

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The Duke of Cam­bridge sup­ports the re­turn of ele­phant tro­phy hunt­ing in Botswana, be­cause it could help to con­serve threat­ened species, ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s leader.

Pres­i­dent Mokg­weetsi Ma­sisi met pri­vately with Prince Wil­liam this week in Lon­don at a con­fer­ence on the il­le­gal wildlife trade. He said they dis­cussed the prob­lem of Botswana hav­ing too many ele­phants and the dam­age they caused to liveli­hoods.

Cam­paign­ers have con­demned Ma­sisi’s plans to lift the ban on tro­phy hunt­ing, say­ing killing wildlife for sport can­not be jus­ti­fied on con­ser­va­tion grounds.

In his speech open­ing the con­fer­ence, Wil­liam spoke of his fear that ele­phants, tigers and rhi­nos could be ex­tinct in the wild by the time his chil­dren were in their 20s.

Ma­sisi said it might be nec­es­sary to cull fam­i­lies of ele­phants be­cause they dam­aged crops, at­tacked peo­ple and de­stroyed fences, al­low­ing dis­eased wildlife to in­fect cat­tle.

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately, it some­times has to be fam­i­lies be­cause ele­phants have good mem­o­ries. You don’t want trau­ma­tised herds,’’ he said.

Botswana has more than 170,000 of Africa’s re­main­ing 415,000 ele­phants.

Ma­sisi in­di­cated could be hunt­ing.

In 2016, Wil­liam said in an in­ter­view said the duke had that he ac­cepted there a con­ser­va­tion case for that al­low­ing peo­ple to pay to hunt old, in­fer­tile an­i­mals was jus­ti­fi­able ‘‘as long as that money goes back into pro­tec­tion of the species’’.

Ma­sisi said: ‘‘He didn’t say that as di­rectly but in other words. Laced with a lot of royal re­gal­ity. Con­sum­mately said or diplo­mat­i­cally said.’’

A source close to the duke said: ‘‘He has made clear in the past he does not per­son­ally sup­port tro­phy hunt­ing but is un­will­ing to crit­i­cise con­ser­va­tion­ists in Africa who think it has a role to play.’’

The pres­i­dent con­demned ‘‘tree­hug­ging con­ser­va­tion­ists’’ who ro­man­ti­cised ele­phants from far away.

‘‘We do not want to come across as lov­ing to kill an­i­mals,’’ he said. ‘‘We are lov­ing to pro­tect our peo­ple. We are lov­ing our prop­erty.

‘‘We are just be­ing ra­tio­nal in the same way any Brit would if you had 100,000 ele­phants ma­raud­ing over the UK. If you want to test it out, we can give you only 500. I bet you’d be scream­ing.’’

Mark Jones, of the Born Free char­ity, said: ‘‘Tro­phy hunt­ing is a relic of a colo­nial-era ob­ses­sion for killing wildlife for sport, and [has] no place in pro­gres­sive con­ser­va­tion pro­grammes.’’

GETTY IM­AGES

Botswana’s Pres­i­dent Mokg­weetsi Ma­sisi says Prince Wil­liam in­di­cated his sup­port for culling Botswana’s ele­phants on con­ser­va­tion grounds, dur­ing a pri­vate meet­ing this week at a con­fer­ence on the il­le­gal wildlife trade.

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