On May 31, CWI organized a demonstration in Las Vegas of an appearance by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi at "JCK Las Vegas", the leading jewelry event in North America.
In recent weeks, Masisi has announced a repeal of the elephant hunting ban that had existed in Botswana for the prior five years. This disgusting move, which puts the live of 400 elephants on the line, is purely political in nature and snubs the opinions of leading conservation experts. Masisi had already proven himself an enemy to elephants when he did away with important poaching protections for elephants and presented elephant feet to the leaders of neighboring countries as a gift when he met with them as part of an effort to REMOVE THE BAN ON IVORY SALES.
While our early 7am demonstration (which coincided with the timing of Masisi's talk) was not able to draw as many protesters as we'd have liked, our efforts were having an impact before we'd even hit the pavement. In an article published prior to our demonstration, one conservation expert noted that "Botswana was once the golden country for tourism. We have been scorned by the world as a result of the lifting of the ban, with protests today in Las Vegas, etc., and bookings have been canceled."
Additionally, over the last many days CWI has seen an unprecedented attack on our social media pages from thousands of Batswana (the name for the peoples of Botswana) who support President Masisi. The race-based attacks lodged against us, the outright lies they've told us, and the clear confusion of Batswana regarding Masisi's pro-trophy hunt policy is a disappointing and all-too familiar reflection of populism, which has been welling up in toxic forms in other areas of the world, like the United States. In this case, it could mean the deaths of hundreds or even thousands of elephants.
With ample solutions to human/wildlife conflicts already available, and other countries stepping up with offers to help, Masisi continues to maintain his interest in trophy hunting. He maintains his interest even while elephants are being poached in the region at ever-increasing rates.
What price should elephants pay for Masisi's vanity and political gain?
Please join us in pledging to BOYCOTT BOTSWANA. Avoid Botswana's primary exports: diamonds, copper, nickel, and textiles, and choose more compassionate African countries for your wildlife watching expeditions.
Stay tuned for additional actions regarding the crisis in Botswana. Please support our work at cwint.org/donate and plan now to get involved in CWI's 2020 Worldwide Rally Against Trophy Hunting, which is set to take place on January 18th.