Elephants in Africa face the ivory trade and the dangers of poaching every single day.
Save The Elephants revealed that between 2002 and 2011, Maisels et al (2013) estimated that the world’s forest elephant population was reduced by 62%.
These shocking statistics make it even harder to acknowledge that hunters today still deliberately venture out to shoot and kill innocent elephants – Hunters such as Theunis Botha, a well-known 51-year-old big game hunter from Johannesberg, South Africa.
Much like many of the helpless elephants that have taken their last breath because of Botha’s actions, he too spent his last day alive on this earth on Friday when he led a group of hunters in Gwai, Zimbabwe.
Botha was leading a group of hunters near Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe – the same park where Cecil the Lion was shot dead by an American hunter earlier in July 2015 – when he came across a herd of breeding elephants.
Sensing the danger, three of the elephants charged at the group. Botha and the others immediately opened fire on the animals, but they missed something vital.
A fourth elephant caught the group by surprise from the side and lifted Botha with her trunk. One of the other hunters fatally shot the elephant, but before the heartless hunters could celebrate their latest kills, the elephant collapsed and fell on top of Botha, crushing him to death.
Like many of the elephants he has killed in his lifetime, Botha has left behind a family. He had a wife and five children that are now left without a husband or father.
Simukai Nyasha, a spokesperson for the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, told the Associated Press Botha was on a 10-day, licensed hunt.
Botha started leading hunts back in the 1980s as a way to put himself through college, which eventually turned into Theunis Botha Big Game Safaris, which the website states is a full-time career and business.
According to Game Hounds Safaris, Botha’s company website, the man pioneered European-syle ‘Monteria hunts’ in the region. These kind of hunts use large packs of dogs to drive deer and boar towards them before opening fire on the animals.
“Botha perfected leopard and lion hunting safaris with hounds in Africa,” the website says. “[He is] focused on giving his clients a unique exciting African safari experience.”
Fellow members of the hunting community took to social media to express their condolences, whilst the news was also met with criticism from those who did not approve of his line of work.