The global furore sparked by a BBC report into the alleged poaching broke last week while Masisi was in the middle of a landmark mission to China. Researchers claimed 87 elephants were recently killed in the Okavango Delta and blamed the disarmament of rangers. Government responded, insisting that only 53 carcasses had been found and most of these were natural deaths over a long period.
The researchers’ report provoked global outrage, with British PM, Theresa May weighing in to express her concern. Masisi returned on Saturday, marking a first by holding a briefing with journalists at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport minutes after he landed.
“This stretch of the imagination of linking poaching with disarmament is hysteria, illogical and fatally flawed and it is opposed to our addiction to the rule of law,” he said.
“Those who truly know me know I have a very long history and track record in matters of environmental management, education and conservation.”
“This country is ours before anyone else. The resources are ours before anyone else.
“This country is one of the driest countries in Africa where you would expect few elephants. It’s us who caused them to be.
“This sudden wisdom of thinking you have the answers to where elephants come and go, we are going to sort it out,” he said.
Masisi is due to meet Okavango Delta wildlife researchers this week in Maun, as part of ongoing consultations around the hunting ban. “We are consulting and we make decisions after that,” he told journalists.
“People must and they will listen to others. We are going to consult very honestly, transparently and if those who instructed us for many years on good governance, now find reason to say that this engagement is not what they were thinking, we will have a conversation with them.
“Botswana and Batswana will prevail. I’m actually quite happy it is happening this way, it is very interesting.”
Meanwhile Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister, Unity Dow is expected to address journalists on the elephant frenzy this morning in Gaborone.