Another casualty has been claimed by the sport or big game hunting, as global outcry against the pursuit is reignited. This time it is in the wake of the killing of one of the largest elephants to reside in the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, reported wildlife conservation groups. The mature bull was taken down by a German hunter who paid around $60 000 USD for the chance.
A rare site within the park, the name of which means “place of many elephants” in Shona, the local language, the elephant was thought to have been between 40 to 60 years of age, and sported massive 120 pound tusks. Its death is being compared to the killing of Cecil the lion, a resident of a different Zimbabwe wildlife preserve, who was well known and beloved among tourists. He was killed in July of 2015 at the hands of American Walter Palmer, who paid $50 000 USD for the opportunity.
While these two killing have been taken together as a foundation for the protest against big game hunting, the elephants death can be differentiated from Cecil’s in that it was carried out on legal hunting grounds, as oppose to Cecil, who was lured away from his protected habitat. The Gonarezhou National Park has legal hunting grounds which only require the necessary permits in order to receive the right to hunt legally from the Zimbabwean park authorities.
This crucial detail makes the outcry against the killing less of a legal conflict and more of a moral one, removing the black and white legalities from the issue the grey are or ethics that surround bog game hunting. While the hunter was legally allowed to kill the animals, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairman is calling the kill “disgusting” and maintains that “it’s wrong to kill an iconic animal like that”.
The German hunter who carried out the killing has not been named by the organization who aided in his hunt, likely due to the strong backlash received by Palmer in the wake of Cecil’s death. It is reported, however, that the elephant was the product of a 21 day expedition that was mainly targeting large African land mammals, such as rhinos, leopards, and lions.
In another bid towards the legitimacy of the hunt, the organizers had adhered to the typical practice of working out a quota of animals in which they are allowed to take with the local government. This killing has subsequently driven locals to call for a reform on the government’s policies on the legal killing of African mammals, requesting stricter rules.
This is a stance the public at large share with the locals in Zimbabwe in an argument of not just the ethics of killing such an iconic animals, but those surrounding the entire sport of big game hunting worldwide.