A German trophy hunter reportedly shot and killed one of thelargest elephants recorded in nearly 30 years, and now a Zimbabwean conservation group wants to make him infamous, like the killer of Cecil the lion.
The 40- to 60-year-old elephant was shot just outside Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park and had tusks weighing more than 100 pounds each, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairperson Johnny Rodrigues said in a statement.
“His tusks were so big that they dragged along the ground when he was walking,” Rodrigues said. This elephant was unknown to wildlife rangers at the park and might have wandered across the border from South Africa into Zimbabwe, where the unidentified hunter shot and killed it.
According to The Telegraph, the hunting organization that led the guided hunt has refused to name the hunter, who paid $61,000 to participate in a 21-day excursion that ended Oct. 8 with one dead elephant. But Rodrigues said the conservation group is going to find out the hunter’s identity.
“The authorities and the hunters’ association are trying to protect him, but we’ve got his photograph,” Rodrigues told The Guardian. “We will identify him, and when we do we’ll leave the public to do what they did to Walter Palmer. People like that deserve it.”
The hunter reportedly had the correct permits for hunting on the land, so no illegal activity occurred. But conservationists say the animal’s size made it one of a kind—an animal like that should have been preserved for others to see in the wild, according to Anthony Kaschula, a safari firm operator in Zimbabwe.
“We have no control over poaching but we do have control over hunting policy that should acknowledge that animals such as this one are of far more value alive (to both hunters and non-hunters) than dead,” Kaschula wrote on Facebook. “Individual elephants such as these should be accorded their true value as a National Heritage and should be off limits to hunting.
In this case, we have collectively failed to ensure that legislation is not in place to help safeguard such magnificent animals.”
While this elephant might have been killed legally, Zimbabwe national park officials are dealing with a recent rise in elephant poaching incidents, finding 26 more dead elephants this week due to cyanide poisoning—on top of the 14 found poisoned just last week.
As many as 100 elephants are killed each day at the hands of poachers to profit from ivory demand in places such as China, Vietnam, and the United States. If those numbers continue, African elephants could be extinct within 20 years, according to animal rights advocates.