Largest African elephant killed in 30 years for £39,000
After Cecil the lion, another prized animal is hunted down in Zimbabwe's national parks
A German hunter has killed one of the biggest African elephants seen in Zimbabwe in the past 30 years, say conservationists in the area.
On 8 October, during a Big Five hunting trip, which includes leopards, lions, buffaloes, elephants and rhinoceros, the hunter shot the bull elephant, paying $60,000 (£39,000) for the licence to kill it.
A local hunter guide helped the man track the elephant down in Gonarezhou National Park, although locals are saying that the elephant, clearly distinguishable by his unusually large size, had never been seen there before.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Louis Muller, chairman of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association, said: "We checked everywhere and this elephant has never been seen before, not in Zimbabwe nor Kruger [National Park, in bordering South Africa]. We would have known it because its tusks are huge. There have been five or six giant tuskers shot in the last year or so, and we knew all of them, but none as big as this one."
On Facebook, Anthony Kaschula, who runs a safari photography business in Gonarezhou National Park, posted pictures of the hunt, saying: "We have no control over poaching but we do have control over hunting policy that should acknowledge that animals such as this one are of far more value alive (to both hunters and non-hunters) than dead." The photos were subsequently taken down.
One of the organisers of the hunting trip, who declined to be named, has refuted any charges of wrongdoing: "We hunters have thick skins and we know what the greenies will say. This elephant was probably 60 years old and had spread its seed many, many times over." He argues that the local community benefits from these hunting trips, which can bring in up to £64,000, 70 per cent of which goes back into the local economy.
Elephant numbers have been steadily declining, mostly due to poachers, who use mass cyanide poisonings to kill and remove the animals' tusks, which are highly sought after on the Asian black market.
The shooting follows the killing of Cecil, a 13-year-old male lion from Hwange National Park, also in Zimbabwe. He was hunted with a bow and arrow by Walter Palmer, an American dentist, who paid around £35,000 for the opportunity.