Big game safari hunter Theunis Botha, age 51, died this past week after being crushed by a female elephant. From NPR:
Botha ran Theunis Botha Game Hounds Safaris specializing in leopard and lion safaris in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. He claims to have pioneered a European-style of hunting in the region using hounds to help flush out the prey. Botha would often travel to the United States to find wealthy customers to take part in the trips, according to the Telegraph.
He was with a hunting party and they came across a breeding herd of elephants – three elephants charged towards him, and a fourth came from the side and took him by surprise, lifting him with her trunk. A fellow hunter shot the elephant and she too died, crushing Mr. Botha.
Sadly, Mr. Botha leaves behind a grieving family. Yet, hunting big game is very dangerous and there is always high risk. The fact that this was a breeding herd made the situation incredibly precarious for the humans. Elephants, like most mammals, are prepared to fight to the death to protect their most vulnerable family members.
Supporters of big game hunts say the money goes into conservation, and also keeps populations in check. But, the results show problems with this optimistic theory. National Geographic looked at six countries that allow big game hunting (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania) and wrote the following:
But a closer look at trophy hunting in Africa shows that the industry employs few people and that the money from hunt fees that trickles down to needy villagers is minimal. Government corruption can be a factor. In Zimbabwe, for instance, individuals associated with President Robert Mugabe have seized lands in lucrative hunting areas. Trophy hunting isn’t stopping poaching, especially in countries that have a poor record of protecting their wildlife…
With more than one-sixth of the land in those six countries set aside for trophy hunting, and the fact that land-hungry politicians are seizing more and more land for themselves, impoverished rural communities often resort to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade to sustain themselves.