In a space of a month, two collared elephants have recently been shot dead for trophies in Zimbabwe. An elephant under research has been shot by a hunter, weeks after another collared elephant, who was being studied by the Frankfurt Zoological Society, was shot in a similar area outside of Gonarezhou National Park.
Shooting animals outside of national parks as part of a hunting safari is common and legal, and is reported to generate about $200 million in Africa. Killing one inside a national park, however, is illegal.
A hunter from Colorado who killed an elephant in 2015 inside park borders has recently been fined $25,000 for violating the Endangered Species Act. He was ordered to return the ivory back to Zimbabwe and banned from hunting any of the threatened species for 4 years.
While it not only seems like a meagre form of punishment, it also highlights the irony of the law- that killing outside of the park is okay, but killing an animal inside is abhorrent and illegal.
These issues must transcend borders. An endangered animal anywhere is an endangered animal everywhere.
Trophy hunting should be banned categorically and countries where trophies are brought home to- mostly to the United States- could do well by banning the importation of trophies.
There are less than 415,000 elephants left, and their numbers continue to plummet due to poaching, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict. Trophy hunting does not need to be another cause for the decimation of the population.
The planet lost 30% of its elephants in 7 years. And the loss of 2 in Zimbabwe alone, due to the rawest form of human callousness, greed and selfishness, is 2 too many.
Rest in peace, ellies. The world is watching.
Zimbabwe’s trophy hunting industry was cast into the spotlight a few years back when Cecil the lion wandered out of Hwange National Park and shot by Dr Walter Palmer. He was also collared and researched by scientists affiliated with Oxford University. The fact that Cecil was collared drew worldwide attention, but of course, hundreds of others are silently felled by a bullet in the name of sport without a whisper of a protest.