Saturday I wrote about the senseless slaughter of Africa’s largest known elephant by a trophy hunter who is believed to be a German national. He is allegedly the man seen smiling and proudly posing with his kill, exchanging a victory high-five with a man who has been described as his hunting guide.
He reportedly was on a 21 day hunting trip to Zimbabwe to fulfill his desire to kill species among the so-called “Big Five” – elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo, and rhinos. It has been said that he paid £39,000 ($64,000 U.S.) for a permit to commit his dirty deed.
Judging from his trophy photo, it appears he experienced a great deal of pleasure from the death of this elephant– celebrating the thrill of his kill. His compulsion must have been great to cause him to travel such long distance and to incur such expense to disrupt the life of this animal who had lived in peace and harmony with nature for the past 50 years or so in Africa. But he had his moment of glory at the cost of the life of this magnificent animal.
The devastation this hunter caused transcends the death of one animal. Elephants are very socially complex animals, and they mourn their dead. Last year I had the privilege of meeting elephant behaviorist Janice Poole, co-founder of ElephantVoices, a world renowned expert in the field. Yesterday she shared with me a quote she recently made to National Geographic regarding this elephant: “That male they killed was in his prime, and not only was he incredibly important to the females, he was really important to other males as a leader in male society.”
The hunting guides have refused to identify the elephant slayer, and he has not come forward to further rejoice his victory. Surely such a big brave game hunter full of bravado can’t be afraid of a bunch of animal advocates, can he?
I do wish he would come out. I have so many questions I would like to ask him. Was it difficult to shoot a living being the size of this massive elephant with a rifle and scope? Was he a moving target or did he simply stand silently in one place when you shot him? Did the animal suffer long before you brought to him to his knees? (It may be recalled, that it was reported that Cecil the Lion was wounded with an arrow in his body before Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer finished his kill a day or more later.)
At least two groups reportedly are trying to identify the hunter. Animal rights group PETA in Germany has reportedly offered a 1,000 euro ($1135 U.S) reward for his identity. Peta president Ingrid Newkirk is quoted as saying, “Time’s about up for trophy hunters and the world wants to know exactly who this cowardly man is who’s in hiding after gunning down a magnificent elephant, who, like Cecil the lion, wanted only to be left in peace.”
It has also been reported that Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force intends to find him and out him. Their chairman Johnny Rodrigues has been quoted as stating, “We don’t know who this hunter is but we will find out. The authorities and the hunters’ association are trying to protect him, but … we’ve got his photograph. We will identify him and when we do we’ll leave the public to do what they did to Walter Palmer. People like that deserve it.”
At this point, very little is known about this hunter. Judging from the photo, it appears to me that he has an inadequately small gun.
Footnote: In related news, on October 14, hunting guide Theo Bronkhorst appeared in a Zimbabwe court regarding charges against him relating to his involvement in the killing of Cecil the Lion. The guide appeared to break down when he told CBS News his life had been ruined, stating, “Well, it’s destroyed us, it’s destroyed the family, my business.”
It also destroyed Cecil and his family. Regarding the destruction of Bronkhorst’s business, the lions and other animals in Zimbabwe let out a collective sigh of relief.
Look what happens when you are kind to animals.
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