Zimbabwe’s tourist attracting wild animals are again in the news. This time a German prize hunter allegedly paid $60,000 to hunt down and kill an elephant known so far to have been the biggest in Africa for the past 30 years at least. The hunt took place in Gonarezhou National Park.
The identify of the elephant itself is not known. There doesn’t appear to be any sign that the hut was done illegally at the moment.
According to a report in the British publication, The Telegraph, the elephants tusks weighed 54kgs.
The news comes barely a week after about 26 elephants were killed by cyanide poisoning in Hwange National Park. And recently, Cecil the Lion, was also hunted by a foreign tourist.
Why Hunting still goes on
As with the case of Cecil the Lion, it looks like the world is once again erupting in protest at the murder of defenceless animals for trophies. At home in Zimbabwe however, the reality of the hunting situation is nuanced. Hunting is actually an industry that employs many Zimbabweans in the tourist resorts especially as photographic tourism has declined thanks to Zimbabwe’s negative image worldwide. It also supports many communities especially those living in these areas.
Zimbabweans living in the country will likely not take the global protests seriously as for them there are more pressing issues than elephants being hunted. Most will also argue that the country has an extreme overpopulation of elephants too.
Elephant Overpopulation in Zimbabwe
Contrary to popular belief, especially because such animals are protected, Zimbabwe actually does have an overpopulation of elephants. The wildlife authorities of Zimbabwe said earlier this year that the country has an excess of over 30,000 elephants. The total number is 80,000.
The country has actually been exporting baby elephants and attracting criticism from global conservationist.
Elephants have not always been in large numbers locally. Below is a graphic showing Zimbabwe’s elephant population over the years . It is said the country can only sustain between around 40,000 at a time.