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Video footage has emerged of a professional South African hunter who was crushed and killed by an elephant during a hunt, showing him cutting off the tail of his prey.
It is a custom among elephant hunters to keep the tails as trophies. Hunting is a huge business in sub-Saharan Africa, with visitors from all over the world flying in to take part in big game hunts of animals including lions and elephants.
While hunting many species, such as rhino, is illegal in Africa, hunting elephants is often legalised under the auspices of helping local communities (though it's questionable whether it does). However, the illegal poaching of elephants for their tusks (popular in the Asian market for placebo medicines) runs into the tens of thousands annually, National Geographic reports.
Hunter Theunis Botha was killed last week when an elephant that had just been shot fell on top of him. Botha, 51, was leading a hunt near Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe when he and his group unintentionally walked into the paths of a herd of breeding elephants, at which point they were charged by three females.
Botha fired off shots at the pack but was surprised by a fourth cow, which charged at him from the side and picked him up with her trunk. Another hunter shot and killed the animal, which killed Botha as it fell. He is left behind by his wife, Carike, and five children.
Well renowned in the hunting industry for taking out wealthy American clients to shoot trophy animals, Botha was a specialist in leopard and lion hunts, but also a 'houndsman'. Similar to fox hunters in the UK, houndsman use pack dogs to drive animals into hunter's sights - in this case deer and boar.
Since his death, footage has emerged of Botha and a hunting team stalking and later shooting what he describes as a "beautiful 70-pound elephant," before saying "I hope we will be lucky enough to shoot one or two more of them, as we have another two clients wanting to hunt elephant."
Credit: Theunis Botha
In the aftermath of Botha's death, his daughter Carmen posted a photo on Facebook of herself and her father smiling over a dead gazelle which they had hunted, causing a number of YouTube commentators to post vitriolic messages online.
Images of hunting's brutality have led to a backlash worldwide in recent years but remains popular with many wealthy holidaymakers. While posting pictures of themselves with dead catches regularly sparks internet outrage, wealthy Americans such as Donald Trump Jr. and Melissa Bachman have done so seemingly without long term negative personal consequences.
However, in 2014 during the World Cup, 17-year-old Axelle Despiegelaere lost possibly the shortest modelling contract of all time due to her hunting activities. Spotted on television supporting her native Belgium, she was snapped up by L'Oreal and given a contract by the firm within two weeks after becoming an internet sensation. However, after Facebook photos of her standing and smiling over a dead gazelle emerged, her contract was quickly cancelled.
Words: Ronan O'Shea
Featured Image Credit: Facebook
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