Lausanne, 4 June 2019
Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi
His Excellency, President of the Republic of Botswana,
Private Bag 001, Gaborone
Your Excellency, President Dr. Masisi,
As a former Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), I could not resist letting you know of my admiration for your robust response in Las Vegas (at a diamond conference) to an animal rights campaigner. Butting in rudely, she accused you of having blood on your hands for advocating the “murdering” of elephants.
Your quick-witted reply, saying “I wish I could sit down so I could talk to her” and “convince her” and “invite her to Botswana to see what we have done”, made the opposition sit up and listen. You spoke as a democrat and conservationist concerned about the best interests of wildlife, the rule of law and the consent of the people. But what really made my day was the fact that your polite and welcoming answer to the protestor came wrapped in steel as you demolished arguments in favour of turning your great nation into a zoo for the benefit of western tourists.
Today, as President of IWMC World Conservation Trust, which advocates for the sustainable use of wildlife resources across the globe, I wish you to know that in the lead up to CITES COP18, we shall be campaigning against calls from BurkinaFaso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Togo to list the elephants of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe in Appendix 1 (which prohibits all trade).
The fact is, if CITES were to accept this retrograde listing, elephant conservation would be harmed, biodiversity damaged and human elephant conflicts heightened. So IWMC shall argue that a misguided Appendix 1 listing of your elephants by foreign powers would represent an own goal against conservation efforts; not least because it would provide a massive boost to black-market racketeers and poachers.
IWMC salutes your courageous leadership and is proud to stand with Botswana on the side of sustainable use conservation.
With my highest consideration,
Former Secretary-General of CITES (1982-1990)