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Botswana threatens to deport 20k elephants to Germany (politico.eu)
56 points by Tomte 9 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments

I have no clue why at this point in time major outlets give PETA the time of day, especially when considering the fact that they kill exponentially more animals than any other non-farming organization in the United States. A morally repugnant organization of hypocrites. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=295a4113-b3be...

It’s kind of mind blowing to me. If it’s true why can’t they use their money to set up sanctuaries for these animals. I understand a lot of, for example, dogs given up are dangerous beasts but can’t they just let them roam free on some 1000 acres with a fence. They seem to have a lot of money, a 100 acres in a temperate climate could be as little as $50k.

I don't think you're appreciating the sheer volume of animals that end up shelters yearly. Looks like it's 6.3 million companion animals per year in the US. Open ended sanctuaries don't make sense unless time and money and labor are free.

Especially once you consider how destructive a single dog can be in your example. And once your 100 acre utopia parcels out the land for a fraction of the animals that need sanctuary to live out their days, what do you do with the rest of the animals?

Frankly, PETA shelters are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to optics. It's easy to criticize them without offering a better solution to the ugly reality of mass scale animal dumping beyond naive suggestions like "how about all shelters just become no-kill shelters." I think we should reserve more of our anger for people who breed animals into existence, not the people trying to handle the glib externalities.

To put that in perspective: PETA's revenue is about $66 million. So they've got about $10 per animal per year. Even if PETA would only take care of 10% of animals, that means $100 per animal per year.

It's hard to say how much an "average dog" would cost to feed because there is so much variety, but ~$25/month seems like a minimal baseline. So that's $300/year in food alone, for a small dog with cheap food. Larger dogs can easily be $600/year.

And that's just food, not counting vet costs, housing, cost of things like toys and whatnot, staff costs (this sort of thing can't really run on 100% volunteer work), etc. etc.

"PETA has a lot of money, they can just set up a sanctuary" is one of those arguments from ignorance that only makes sense if you spent less than 10 seconds looking at it.

There is a case to be made if you would rather kill them or let them live literally feral on a large enough plot of land with no labor/food/medication provided. Sort of like a wildlife reserve.

Dogs are domesticated animals though. Can they actually survive in that scenario, in general? I would expect most of them would end up starving to death, or escaping to the larger area.

Yeah that’s the question I’m posing. In a fenced area they can’t escape. I presume they will default to dog behavior like in some urban parts of India (where killing dogs is considered cruel and not done). They form packs and hunt together. Is that better than killing them outright? I think so. They quickly default to killing birds and other small animals for food.

Agreed. And honestly, even if PETA got out of the shelter business, anti-PETA folks will just find some other marginal edge cases dismiss them entirely. [0]

I'm glad they are sticking to their principles and doing the right thing. Listing to popular opinion never works since people will always hunt for reasons to criticize. If popular opinion had its way with the animal rights movement, there would be no animal rights movement.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24386195

It's a pure utilitarian calculation. These animals are better off dead than alive. There isn't the natural habitat, or resources to care for them. Better to end their suffering quickly and painlessly.

If we could ask the dog "death now, or try your luck on the street?" I assume it would choose the latter. Being a street dog is a hard life, but it's not all suffering. We kill the dogs because letting them roam free is an inconvenience to us. It's not an easy problem to solve, hence all the urging to neuter and spay.

If they're going to end up in the street, why not let bad owners dump there directly and save effort? What could go wrong with letting loose a few dozens of stray dogs each week, right?

"You are given en elephant. You cannot kill it or sell it. What do you do?"

I recal last week on HN everybody were sure this was a stupid question with no connection to anything remotely practical...

Turns out, you can just say "No". Once again, teaching us that real life does not follow any rules we're imposed in school.

From what i remember, Botswana have two giant natural parks, a strong government and isn't as destabilized by the DRC (and let's be honest, the metal found in southern DRC) as its northern neighbours, so i can see that their elephant population could reach level so high they have to kill some. Canadians/USians do the same with wolves (and/or deers in the Appalachians), we do the same with hogs, and all those animals are ultimately less damaging than elephants, so it reeks of useless activism.

Botswana should have threatened to do that, because it's ultimately a ridiculous threat, but to be fair, i would rather have rich people go kill designated animals and pay through the nose for it to curb population, rather than letting poachers and illegal safaris do the same. At least it move money from people who do not need it, to people who do.

"I don't want anyone to shoot them, but I also don't want to otherwise think about them or take any other action."

This might be hypocritical and lame, but I think it's the prevailing feeling among the voting population. Maybe the German government could balance it's trophy ban with some in-place elephant sponsorship.

Also I can't imagine why you'd expect to get an interesting comment from PETA.

People get weird about charismatic megafauna (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charismatic_megafauna). See the struggles in the US to get e.g. wolves de-listed from the ESA in states with thriving populations.

Well, I don't want anyone to shoot you. But I don't know who you are and don't want to think about you after this comment or take any other action.

Would you prefer that I don't care whether someone shoots you?

> But I don't know who you are and don't want to think about you after this comment or take any other action

Well, while i don't agree with the original comment, both of you are missing the critical part of this in your argumentation.

It's missing the part where the potentially killed subject is actively harmful to others/humans in its habitat. That makes all the difference.

On what grounds do you presume that I'm not actively harmful to the humans in my habitat?

While I appreciate your point here, I don't consider it to be decisive. I think that if the elephants were considerate of their neighbors they would still be a burden on the Batswana. Ultimately there will be competition for land and water and the opportunity cost of not letting rich foreigners shoot them.

Botswana is a good place for the elephants, and the government seems relatively well disposed towards them. Ideally that would be enough, but I think economically it has to be worth their while, otherwise the resources will be put to a more "productive" use.

Has the elephant population per unit area increased a lot in Botswana? If yes, why? Were there natural predators before that no longer exist?

Botswana’s government website seems to imply that many elephants migrated there from the north because they were much safer from poachers there than in Namibia, Angola etc. or rather that they used to seasonally migrate across the border but stopped because of the poachers. Now the risk is much higher but younger elephants got too used to living in Botswana. To be fair this doesn’t sound entirely inconceivable and in theory those elephants probably could be considered to be refugees..

Also I guess humans were hunting elephants for thousands of years keeping the population “in check”

* https://www.botswana.co.za/Botswana_Wildlife_Behaviour-trave....

> Also I guess humans were hunting elephants for thousands of years keeping the population “in check

Did they though? I don't think elephant meat is eaten and ivory isn't really a super useful substance to African tribes afaik, it's more desired in the west.

Many (or probably even all) of the elephants hunted in Botswana butchered for meat by locals. And why wouldn't you eat elephant meat?

Yes, it was eaten and is eaten. It's red meat. It's calories. Of course humans ate/eat it. The oldest evidence is 1.8m years old. According to wiki, in 2007 it seemed to be selling for like $5-6/lb in Africa.

Humans hunted mammoths to extinction. Probably similar, if leaner.

EU could have a competition for Namibia and Angola etc and pay for successful elephant protection. (This might already be in place.)

I thought this was quite a good article on the topic: "Who Wants to Shoot an Elephant?" – https://www.gq.com/story/what-its-like-to-hunt-an-elephant

While I understand the need for wildlife conservation, all of this sits quite uneasy with me. What kind of person thinks it's just amazing to shoot such an intelligent being as an elephant?

Then again, is it really worth making a huge fuss about a relatively small amount of animals who get to live most of their lives in freedom, when there are billions of animals every year being raised in far worse circumstances? It seems to me that's a far more pressing matter.

Also, according to [1], "elephants roaming the country have killed 36 people over the past two years", which complicate things even further. Elephants are beautiful animals, but they're also wild animals. And quite large ones at that. You'd probably lose a fight with an elephant – badly.

[1]: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/five-things-know-a...

> Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was unavailable for comment. Cough.

Did they try trunk call to reach?

I saw that and i was like, is the writer being sarcastic or was this written by a bot. Just plain funny.

I wonder about the logistics of moving so many elephants such a distance, even if you do it gradually. Surely Botswana has better ways to spend the money.

More racism from western journalism. The headline intentionally makes them sound like 'just another' backwards non-western country when no one is actually threatening such a thing. This and the NK headline the other day sum up the attitude of the west versus the rest of the world, but their world is now in decline and we see them for what they are.

That’s a fantastic idea. Can any country implement an import ban and receive the same offer?

The phrase “white elephant” is a thing for a reason. Elephants are incredibly expensive to maintain just one of the them let alone thousands.

Part of the "offer" is that they must live their own lives freely in nature. I guess that implies that there's no maintenance cost for them. Cost to maintain nature on the other hand...

Except they were killing people and ruining crops so the cost of lost life and food supplies I guess.

The same old tale

"Too much wolves, people is not safe!" so they treat with violence unless are allowed to kill them. A year later "wildboars invasion! toddlers in danger" so they require to be hunted (by them). Then is a chain of "too much foxes", that lead to "rabbits destroyed our food", and then is "mice alert!", and then is rats, and then "this asphalt has a plague of fire ants, why we need to suffer so much?"...

Is an endless dismantling spiral of bullshit, and is very profitable for a few.

Botswana has "too much investors" ravaging nature, and elephants have ivory that other countries still crave.

I cannot comment for Africa , but having lived in parts of India where elephants both wild and domesticated are prevalent there is a real human wild life conflict .

You will not truly understand the pressures on both wildlife and people unless you live in a populous location . The people living close to wildlife are already marginalized and disenfranchised and when conservation does not account for their livelihoods it does not work.

There is not much ivory or trade in India, elephants are revered in religion and strongly protected by the government federally and locally, the friction still exists between farmers and wild life.

To quote the Botswana minister it is easy to sit in [city] and comment on the nature of their conservation, go there and live their lives and then make sweeping statements.

Over a dozen people die every year due to wild elephants. You can't just ignore that. That also makes it completely incomparable to the situations you're talking about.

The quote from the Botswanian president is very applicable to your comment: “It is very easy to sit in Berlin and have an opinion about our affairs in Botswana. We are paying the price for preserving these animals for the world.”

Those horrible settlers, unwilling to sacrifice their children to the majestic creatures of the forest! Utter bullshit! I for one think a few dozen kids getting their throats ripped out each year would be a small price to pay to bring the wolves back.

Yep, this is exactly the alienated level of that discourse. Any relationship with reason, logic, biological knowledge or reality is gone.

I can predict your dismay when eventually realize that dogs kill much more people than wolves.

They also wanted to send a few thousand to Hyde Park in London.

I'd like to see that!

If they ran on gas or Diesel it would be easier.

It's kind of pathetic to make silly threats that everyone knows they have zero ability to carry out.

Of course it's not a serious suggestion; it's just a pointed way to state their case.

And almost every country does wildlife management by killing some animals. I feel their point of "okay, so we can't do that according to you – then are you going to take care of the animals?" was well taken.

Send them on a barge across the Med, and German-funded rescue boats will drop them off in Italy or other coasts in Europe. Tattoo them with "To Germany with Love" and a few might find their way there. Hannibal brought elephants over the Alps, could be a great time for reenactment filming.

Botswana is a landlocked country.

Elephants don’t fly?

> pathetic to make silly threats

The embedded threat is reducing anti-poaching enforcement and penalties, or exploring re-legalising the ivory trade with China.

If they had a ready alternative market they could just do that instead of flipping out over Germany decided what can and can't be imported into their own country.

> If they had a ready alternative market they could just do that

Botswana is flipping out over Germany threatening their trophy hunting business. Presumably if they go full poaching/ivory, they write off that business for good. They’re trying to defend the status quo.

One word: Hannibal

Hannibal invaded Italy with 37 elephants and got a pretty good result. /s

But it does seem kind of ugly of us as a species to preserve them as a species for hunting.

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