We recently followed the controversy over the shooting of “Cecil the Lion” by an American dentist Walter Palmer from Minnesota. What was most striking was the complete disconnect in how such kills are seen by hunters versus the public at large, as shown by the subsequent controversy of a Idaho hunter taunting animal advocates. A new such controversy has emerged after a German hunter celebrated the killing of one of the largest elephant ever seen In Zimbabwe at the Gonarezhou National Park. The magnificent animal was estimated to be 40 and 60 years old with tusks that almost touch the ground and weigh 120lb. Again, the difference in how this killing is viewed is fascinating. Hunters celebrated the kill while many in the public were appalled that this hunter would pay tens of thousands of dollars to travel to Africa and shot such a beautiful and inspiring animal.
The elephant was shot on October 8th in a hunter who paid $60,000 (£39,000) for a permit to conduct a 21-day game hunt including the Big Five of elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo and rhinoceros. He then proudly posed next to the dead elephant. Many are appalled by the fact that this is considered a triumph to possess an animal by killing it. Some believe that this is the largest elephant killed in decades.
Anthony Kaschula, who operates a photographic safari firm in Gonarezhou, posted pictures of the hunt on Facebook, and objected that “individual elephants such as these should be accorded their true value as a National Heritage and should be off limits to hunting.”
Louis Muller, chairman of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters & Guides Association, said the hunter had only realised how large the “tusker” was once he had been shot.
These legal hunts are adding to the decline in elephant populations that have been decimated by poaching and, as discussed recently, cyanide poisoning.