Former Botswana president Ian Khama has appealed to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders to ban hunting trophy imports as part of a global campaign to save elephants and other animals from extinction.
Speaking to a British tabloid on Wednesday, Khama said the fight against trophy hunting should be a “two-pronged approach” involving bans of trophy hunting by countries still with large amounts of wild animals and the outlawing of imports of body parts extracted from hunted animals.
“When I was president, I believed it was my responsibility to contribute towards the conservation of nature by banning hunting, and it’s also the responsibility of others, like in the UK, to ban imports of hunting trophies,” Khama said.
He added: “And if we all work together, we will achieve a healthy planet. Global Britain means leading the world by example.”
During his tenure as president of Botswana, Khama criminalised trophy hunting in 2014 but the ban was lifted by his successor Mokgweetsi Masisi who has argued that the number of elephants in the country has grown exponentially, resulting in increased cases of human-wildlife conflicts.
The country is home to the world's largest elephant populations, with some estimates putting the number at about 130,000 elephants.
Masisi insists that there is need to allow controlled hunting to avoid such conflicts and ensure that communities that live near national parks also benefit from the proceeds of wildlife conservation.
Khama, however, said attempts by Botswana’s wildlife authorities to hold a sale of ivory stockpiles were driven by “greed and corruption”.
“The rate at which animals are being slaughtered, we are heading for a situation when there will be very few left and they will be seen only in zoos,” he said.