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Post series: Botswana elephants – to hunt or not?

The international furore over the Botswana government decision to recommence the hunting of elephant (and other species) necessitates an understanding of the entire picture. This post is one of eight posts from various sources looking at this issue from different angles. The other seven posts you should read to get the full picture:

Botswana government announcement – hunting ban should be lifted
Botswana 2018 aerial survey – of elephants, baobabs and cattle
• Botswana government questions elephant survey report by Dr Mike Chase
• Personal statement from Dr Mike Chase, Elephants Without Borders
• Opinion post from Gail Potgieter – human-wildlife conflict specialist
Opinion post from Clare Doolan – tourism industry product and sales manager
Opinion post from Erik Verreynne – livestock and wildlife veterinary surgeon in Botswana


Respected conservation spokesperson Dereck Joubert has reacted to the recent recommendation by a Botswana government committee that the ban on trophy hunting should be lifted, elephants culled and fences erected to prevent certain wildlife migration:


Our beautiful Botswana is under siege by lobby groups. Yesterday a white paper was submitted to the government recommending wildlife utilisation with a series of suggestions to:

a) open up the largely condemned hunting of elephants and all wildlife again;

b) the culling of massive numbers of elephants;

c) the setting up of canning factories for those dead elephants to convert them into pet food;

d) more fences; and

e) the active cutting off of wildlife corridors.

At first, I thought it was a cruel April Fools’ Day announcement, but no one is laughing today. I have given this white paper a name and if it passes I believe it should be called ‘Botswana’s Blood Law’.

Internally we are meeting to understand what it means to Great Plains, to our conservation efforts and to you, our partners, guests and friends. Whilst disturbing, I cannot for a moment believe that any government, let alone Botswana’s, which is world renown for being moderate and well informed, would adopt this policy. We believe that it will be stopped in its tracks but we are soliciting support to help express exactly how shameful it would be to institute a policy such as this.

I have seen enough dead elephants from the bad guys. I don’t need to see a thousand more piles from our own government. I have seen the damage fences can do. We don’t need more fences we need fewer. I have promoted connective corridors my whole life, with the science being quite clear: according to the very theories of Darwin and Wallace (Biogeography), that the smaller the island the more likely and rapid the rate of extinction. Botswana’s proposed ‘Blood Law’ would be instituting policies to do all of that.  

We will be voicing our opinion against this, as strongly as we can. I will be doing that personally, as the CEO of this company, our foundation, and as large investors in Botswana. Great Plains Conservation will be doing the same. 

As a global community, and a local one, we are better than this and our entire ethos at Great Plains Conservation is based on caring; caring for our communities by sharing revenues and benefits, caring for our guests and partners, and caring for the environment and everything in it. Not one element of this white paper is about caring. It is just the opposite, and so, we are registering, via this announcement, that we are opposed to the very substance of the proposal.  

Our pledge to you, industry partners and guests, is that we will do whatever we can to engage legally and respectfully to make sure this ‘Blood Law’ is not passed in Botswana.

Dereck Joubert

CEO Great Plains Conservation and Great Plains Foundation

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Dereck Joubert

Dereck and Beverly Joubert are award-winning filmmakers from Botswana. Their mission is the conservation and understanding of the large predators and key African wildlife species that determine the course of all conservation in Africa.