Killing of huge elephant in Zimbabwe angers conservationists

The elephant is said to be one of the largest ever seen in Zimbabwe.
The elephant is said to be one of the largest ever seen in Zimbabwe.PHOTO: TELEGRAPH/TWITTER

HARARE - The hunt of a large mature elephant by a German hunter has angered conservationists, barely three months after the death of Cecil the lion sparked a controversy over the hunting of large animals.

The hunter, who is not named, paid US$60,000 (S$82,950) for a permit to hunt a large bull elephant, and was accompanied by a professional hunter. He was on a 21-day game hunt for the Big Five, which includes the elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo and rhinoceros.

The animal shot was one of the largest elephants ever seen in Zimbabwe, The Telegraph said in its report.

Its tusks were as tall as a grown man, and were almost dragging on the ground. It is estimated to be between 40 and 60 years old.

The hunter only realised how large it was after it was shot, The British newspaper said, quoting Mr Louis Muller, chairman of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters & Guides Association.

The elephant was shot in a private hunting concession bordering Zimbabwe's southern Gonarezhou National Park.

Unlike Cecil the lion, there is little question about the legality of this hunt. Conservationists, however, say that such a magnificent animal would be more valuable to the local communities alive, and should be off limits to hunters.

Mr Anthony Kaschula, who owns a photographic safari firm in Zimbabwe, told the Telegraph: "Individual elephants such as these should be accorded their true value as a National Heritage and should be off limits to hunting."

Mr Muller said his organisation had suggested that unique elephants should be collared to protect them from hunting, but his proposal has not been taken up yet.

The man who organised the hunt said that the hunt was legal and as much as 70 per cent of hunting fees they collected went back to the local community. They also observed quotas for animals, he said.

Cecil, a 13-year-old male lion which was a well-known attraction at Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, was killed by Mr Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota.

He was hounded on social media over the killing and went into hiding after demonstrations outside his dental practice.