An elephant was shot multiple times and hunted down by a hunting party in South Africa, violating the nation’s restrictions on trophy hunting of African elephants, according to animal welfare organization Humane Society International (HSI) Africa.
The male elephant was killed on September 3 at the Maseke Game Reserve, situated within the Balule Nature Reserve in Limpopo Province. He was shot eight times during an intense chase.
Reports from the scene indicate a hunting party, consisting of a client, hunting guide, reserve representative, and a backup rifleman, pursued the elephant. After an initial gunshot from the client, more shots were fired to bring the elephant down.
The distressed elephant tried to seek refuge in the nearby Grietjie Game Reserve, an ecotourism space where trophy hunting is forbidden. Despite this, the elephant was pursued, driven back to Maseke Game Reserve by a helicopter, and ultimately killed after receiving approximately eight gunshots.
“No animal should ever experience the pain and suffering that this elephant endured. The practice of trophy hunting is not only profoundly inhumane, but also poses a grave threat to our biodiversity and tarnishes South Africa’s global reputation as a sustainable and responsible tourist destination. To injure, chase and kill any animal in this way is unacceptable,” Tony Gerrans, executive director of HSI Africa, said.
“This incident once again demonstrates the inhumanity of hunting sentient animals merely for bragging rights and to display parts of their bodies as trophies on a wall. Too many endangered and threatened animals continue to suffer and die within so-called ‘nature conservation reserves’ in what is best described as a blood sport,” Gerrans added.
The Balule Nature Reserve is a member of the Associated Private Nature Reserves (ANPR), a group of privately owned nature reserves bordering the Kruger National Park. Animals can move freely across the borders of neighboring reserves.
Some reserves within the APNR allow trophy hunting, while others do not, meaning protected animals from one reserve, or even the Kruger National Park, could be killed by trophy hunters within another reserve.
“This incident is a serious cause for concern beyond South Africa: it calls attention to the rampant mismanagement, lack of oversight, and cruel nature in the global trophy hunting industry,” said Sarah Veatch, director of wildlife policy for Humane Society International.
“This is a harsh reminder of Cecil the lion’s tragedy in Zimbabwe, who suffered from arrow wounds for over 10 hours before he was killed by a trophy hunter, and it happens far more often than these two instances,” she added.