Mmegi Online :: Masisi dresses down BBC
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Last Updated
Monday 10 December 2018, 15:12 pm.
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Masisi dresses down BBC

In an exclusive interview with President Mokgweetsi Masisi, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) came with a clear agenda: expose the gaps exploited by elephant poachers once guns were withdrawn from the anti-poaching rangers in recent months.
By Enole Ditsheko Fri 12 Oct 2018, 14:04 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Masisi dresses down BBC








However, Masisi turned the approach on its head and the chance might be that when the pre-recorded programme airs on Friday for millions of viewers around the world, a good chunk might be removed because the anchor fielded questions from a rather curiously sceptical President. Masisi last month refuted claims by the conservationist Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders (EWB) that there were 87 poached elephants in one conservancy.

“While it seemed important for you to air such a report about Botswana, it remains curious that you never considered the importance to accord us the right of reply.  Isn’t that the ethical practice of a reputable news organisation as yourself? I am disappointed,” he emphasised.

The Nigerian-born correspondent responded that a highly qualified researcher in the mould of Chase was a reliable source and impeccable authority, who should be trusted when he puts together a report similar to the one he released.

The anchor wondered if the President was insinuating that the report passed for the popular refrain ‘fake news’ to which Masisi affirmed. “Fake news might be a popular phrase associated with President Donald Trump, but fake news has always been around and fake news will forever be. This is clearly one of them. I invite the BBC – to visit Botswana and do your research. Should you discover something that suggests that our patrols leave gaps for poachers to reign undeterred, we will reimburse your travel tickets, hotel accommodation and associated expenses. Not only that; we will also retract our earlier statement and tell the world that we were economic with the truth. In the same light, we expect that should you find that you

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have been lied to, you would do the honourable thing to retract your widely circulated report,” Masisi said, placing the challenge at their doorstep.

Ahead of the heads of government meeting on Thursday and Friday hosted by the UK government, Botswana will likely attract special attention following the wide publicity of Chase’s report. UK’s Secretary for Environment; Michael Gove has last week, launched an appeal to the Botswana government to put in place mechanisms that would end poaching:

“Last month, it was reported that in one of the most sickening attacks yet mounted in Africa, more than 50 magnificent elephants were killed near a sanctuary in Botswana – a terrible blow for a country with a long and successful conservation programme.

“The tusks had been hacked off and spirited away to be sold on for vast sums by unscrupulous criminals exploiting the international market for ivory.

We must act or face the real possibility that future generations will know elephants only from books, photos or film – an unthinkable prospect,” Gove wrote on the official government page.In a curious turn of events, the President paid a courtesy call on Prince William on the same afternoon, where the topic of conservation of the flora and fauna took the centre stage behind closed doors.

Responding to the question by a University of Oxford graduate student about sharing Botswana’s best conservation strategies with the rest of the region that Jordan Cassel lauded, Masisi had this to say:

“I am glad you know of our best conservation practices. Earlier in the day, I met Prince William and I emphasised the same,” he explained.

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