The patriarch of Namibia’s shrinking population of desert elephants has been shot dead by a trophy hunter. The majestic male elephant had been branded a problem animal by the authorities in order to allow him to be shot. An entirely opposite viewpoint was taken by a group of conservancies who have written to the authorities to tell them of their disapproval of the killing. In fact, they had asked that the elephant be left alone because they considered him to be an asset to the community. He brought in tourists.
Apparently the trophy hunter paid £6750 which seems to be too low a figure as it can often cost trophy hunters around £50,000 to shoot iconic African animals. The elephant was worth a lot more than that to the local community in terms of tourism revenue.
The elephant’s name was Voortrekker which means “pioneer” in Afrikaans. He had been blamed for damaging water pipes and other infrastructures in the central Omatjete area. This may have been due to the drought which the area is suffering from.
However, conservationists who had tracked this bull elephant and the 25 strong herd of which he was the head claim that the damage assigned to him was in fact caused far from the herd’s traditional range. They blame younger, riotous bulls from other regions for the destruction.
All in all, I get the distinct impression that this beautiful animal was shot by an American trophy hunter hunter for the pleasure of killing an iconic animal. The local authorities conspired to find a reason to kill him for personal financial gain. His death will disrupt the herd’s social structure.
“Just killing the animals is not the solution. [He was] worth much more than [£6750] to local people in terms of tourism revenue. He was the main breeding bull and had the strongest genes. In elephant society it is important that the older bull remains dominant to teach youngsters to respect the hierarchy and not push boundaries with human communities.” — Iyambo Naruseb of the Otjimboyo conservancy
Desert elephants have thinner bodies and wider feet because they have to walk on soft sand and walk farther when food is scarce.
I suspect that this bull elephant did not cause damage and was a valuable asset to the community. It’s just another example of the horrendous trophy hunting in Africa of which Americans are the leading proponents. The British are being encouraged to do the same thing in greater numbers by South African businesses engaged in canned lion hunts.