Wildlife advocates decry killing of mature bull elephant: Another Cecil?

The hunter reportedly paid $60,000 for the opportunity to kill an elephant in Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou National Park.

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/File
An elephant is seen in Hwange National Park, about 700 kilometres south west of Harare, Zimbabwe, Oct. 1. The killing of a mature bull elephant in Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou National Park has sparked outrage among wildlife advocates.

The global outcry against big-game hunting may be prompted anew by news from wildlife conservation groups that a mature bull elephant, one of the largest in Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park, was shot and killed by a German hunter who paid $60,000 for the opportunity.

The elephant, who is believed to have been between 40 and 60 years old and had tusks that weighed nearly 120 pounds, was a rare sighting in the park, whose name means “place of many elephants” in the local language.

Many observers are drawing comparisons to the killing of Cecil the lion, which took place at another Zimbabwean wildlife preserve. Cecil, well-known to tourists for his iconic black mane, was killed by a Minnesota dentist who paid $50,000 in order to snare him.

But a crucial difference is that, unlike in the case of Cecil the lion, the elephant seems to have been killed in a legal hunting area of Gonarezhou National Park. Zimbabwean park authorities require only the procurement of the necessary permits in order to secure a hunt, and so far, it appears that that was done in this case.

Nonetheless, wildlife advocates are outraged. Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairman Johnny Rodrigues told Deutsche Welle, "We are disgusted. It's wrong to kill an iconic animal like that.”

The German who was responsible for the elephant’s death has not been named by the hunters who organized his expedition. The Telegraph reports that this “trophy” kill was part of a twenty-one-day outing, where he sought to kill other large African land mammals such as lions, leopards, and rhinos.

This is typical practice in cases where professional hunters have discussed with the local government what quota of animals they are allowed to take, but the event has led some locals to call for stricter rules surrounding the legal killing of African mammals, CNN reports.

“Individual elephants such as these should be accorded their true value [in our national heritage] and should be off limits to hunting,” Anthony Kaschula, who manages photographic safaris in Gonarezhou, posted on Facebook. “In this case, we have collectively failed to ensure that legislation is not in place to help safeguard such magnificent animals.”

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