Botswana's Masisi adds heat to hunting debate with elephant attack tweet

Masisi’s government has been met with outrage by the country’s former president Ian Khama, international conservationists and Hollywood celebrities, including talk show host Ellen Degeneres.

FILE: Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG – Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s tweet passing condolences on the death of a man who he said was “brutally attacked by an elephant” has added to the heated debate on the lifting of a hunting ban in that country.

Masisi’s government has been met with outrage by the country’s former president Ian Khama, international conservationists and Hollywood celebrities including talk show host Ellen Degeneres.

His critics accuse him of lifting the ban to spite Khama who imposed it but his government maintains its motives are to protect humans and crops.

Masisi told the world on Twitter that Balisi Sebudubudu was attacked by an elephant while him and other young men were herding cattle.

He says this came 24 hours after he responded to an elephant protestor in Las Vegas.

US PR firm 42 West declared that Botswana had hired it to communicate its decision to lift the elephant hunting ban.

Reactions show that some see Masisi’s tweet as a push-back after Khama quit the governing party and declared he would support the opposition in the upcoming election.

Masisi supporters have accused Khama of caring more for elephants than the people being killed by them.