In an election year, Botswana's voters trump elephants

09 June 2019 - 00:00 By Antony Sguazzin and Pauline Bax

When Botswana, home to about a third of the world's African elephants, lifted its hunting ban last month, leaders knew they were courting controversy. The government even hired a public-relations firm specialising in Hollywood celebrities to spin public opinion to its side.

For President Mokgweetsi Masisi, pictured below, the need to end the ban was obvious. Rural farmers have borne the brunt of the near-tripling of the elephant population since 1991, to 130,000. As many as 50 Botswanans have been killed by elephants since the ban on hunting was implemented in 2014, and hundreds of reports of property damage have been filed. Plus, in October Botswana is facing its most competitive election since independence in 1966 and Masisi needs rural support...

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