Killing Pioneer: Trophy Hunter Kills Iconic Elephant In Namibia

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YouTube (BBC) Screenshot

Voortrekker (“Pioneer”)  is arguably the world’s most photographed and famous living elephant.  Thousands of tourists would go to Namibia to see the massive elephant with its signature perfect ears and profile. One tourist however came not just to admire but to kill the famous elephant. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) agreed to allow the unnamed trophy hunter to shoot Pioneer for N$120 000. It was not hard.  Pioneer was famous in part because of his gentle and friendly demeanor.  It was like shooting a couch, but someone can now claim to have killed the most famous elephant in the world. The rest of us can look at pictures.

In order to grab the money, MET declared Pioneer a “problem elephant” despite letters from local groups that the claims of crossing into communities were false. That did not matter. Someone wanted a thrill kill and Namibian officials wanted the money.
As regulars on this blog know, I am no fan of such trophy hunts.  I often hike in remote spots to see bears and other animals in their natural habitat. We have previously followed the controversy over the shooting of “Cecil the Lion” by an American dentist Walter Palmer from Minnesota as well as  subsequent controversies of an Idaho hunter taunting animal advocates and killing giant elephants or giraffes  or rare goats or famed wolves for trophies. Recently, we discussed how the highly corrupt Zambian government to allow trophy hunters to kill thousands of hippos, including rare and threatens species for windfall payments.
I will again express my confusion on why there is such a thrill to these kills for trophy hunters. I am not sure of the trophy that is commonly obtained from a hippo. However, shooting a hippo with a high-powered rifle is about as challenging shooting cars in the airport parking lot. Yet, thrilled hunters are shown posing with the dead animals like they have achieved something truly grand in the killing such animals.
We previously wrote about the disturbing pictures of trophy hunter Tess Thompson Talley posing with her giant dead giraffe like it was some great feat to shoot a giraffe standing still eating leaves.  She told “CBS This Morning” “ I am proud of that giraffe.” She said that she had his skin made into a gun case that “everybody loves” as well as a couple decorative pillows.  She added “He was delicious. He really was. Not only was he beautiful and majestic, he was good.”
Yup, I saw a beautiful and majestic giant giraffe so I killed it and turned it into decorative pillows and a gun case.  As a lifelong outdoorsman, I cannot get my mind around that logic.

13 thoughts on “Killing Pioneer: Trophy Hunter Kills Iconic Elephant In Namibia”

  1. I don’t understand the attraction of hunting other than for food.
    I’ve never known one of the ‘African Safari’ type trophy hunters, but have known a few that traveled throughout North America for hunts.

    ALL of them, as well as the subsistence hunters, have been conservationists. They understand that there are limited resources, and that to maintain health of the population, selected individuals need to be culled. They work to maintain an appropriate balance between young, adult, old, male, and female.

    So, to an extent, it makes perfect sense that wildlife management would want to cull an old animal to allow a younger to establish a better place in the population.

    As Americans, we’re accustomed to individuals in the government being honest. Maybe not always accurate, but honest. When they issue tags for, or restrictions on which animals can be shot, they’re doing the best they know how. That may not be the case elsewhere, especially in countries where corruption is prevalent.

    If the decision to issue a permit to kill Cecil or Pioneer was made for the benefit of the health of the population, then great. The state should auction off that permit to the highest bidder. It’s also possible that the permit was issued solely to line the pockets of individuals, to the detriment of the population.

    How is an American hunter to know the difference?

  2. It is up to the rest of us to make clear that such acts reflect badly on the perpetrators, who clearly are desperate for admiration.

  3. Like most government strategies, short ranged, short sighted, never considering the long term benefits of allowing the elephant to live.

  4. Typical corruption in MET. They fabricated an excuse to kill a tourist attraction. Now they’ve killed the golden goose, but it won’t matter, because the trophy fees likely lined a few individual pockets. It won’t matter to them that the nation lost long term revenue from Pioneer. Or perhaps they felt he was getting older and his income generating potential was waning.

    Very sorry for the loss of Pioneer. Elephants are extremely intelligent creatures with strong ties to their herd.

    I abhor trophy hunting. Subsistence hunting fills the freezer with organic, wild meat that lived wild and free until a quick death free of the fear of the slaughterhouse.

    That said, it is common for people to express an utter loss as to why anyone would trophy hunt. And yet, natural history museums sell a lot of tickets for people to come view their taxidermy specimens of big game, the skeletal remains of paleolithic fauna, or even dinosaur fossils. Trophy hunters want their house to be a natural history museum, and they go out to collect specimens that they can touch.

    I don’t like viewing dead animals. The young animals in the museums are especially sad. I can practically hear organ music when I enter a taxidermy shop in Jackson Hole. I much prefer to see them photographed in life, with their vibrancy and attitude on full display. A stuffed lion is stiff and blank. A lion roaring in a photo, or looking dead on to the camera in that interested, sharp way is more thrilling.

    1. Likely corrupt officials lined their own pockets, and could care less what the country needs.

  5. As disgusting as it is, you have to admit, these individuals get the attention they are seeking. Not only from their friends but from their critics.

  6. Such Trophy Hunters: Disgusting individuals that I would not want in my presence let alone allow in my home.

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