William supports revival of elephant hunts – president
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.’’
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.