Is an elephant worth more dead than alive?
That question looms over the latest big-game hunt making headlines and distressing conservationists.
Only three months after American Walter Palmer stirred controversy by killing Cecil the lion during a hunting expedition in Zimbabwe, a German man has killed an African bull elephant in what may be the biggest trophy-hunt takedown in Africa in 30 years, according to The Telegraph.
The elephant was killed near Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park. The name of park means “place of many elephants,” according to the park’s website.
The identity of the elephant, unlike Cecil, was unknown, but the age of the “tusker,” a term reserved for especially large elephants, was projected to be between 40 and 60 years old; its tusks clocked in at a whopping 120 pounds each.
“There have been five or six giant tuskers shot in the last year or so, and we knew all of them, but none as big as this one,” Louis Muller, chairman of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters & Guides Association, told The Telegraph.
Muller also said that his organization had called for protecting unique elephants, but that “nobody responded” to the suggestion.
The German hunter, whose name is not being released, paid $60,000 for permits to legally hunt big-game targets like leopards, lions, and rhinoceros, in addition to elephants.
Walter Palmer’s guide -- though not Palmer himself, who paid $50,000 to go on such a hunt and thought he had acquired all the necessary, requisite paperwork-- is still facing charges for carrying out an illegal hunt of the beloved lion.
Poaching remains a massive problem in the area. National Geographic reported in 2014 that 100,000 African elephants, the world's largest land animal, were killed in the three years prior. Just last week, the bodies of 26 elephants were found after falling to cyanide poisoning in Zimbabwe national parks.
Hunters and their advocates argue that the fees from legal, big-game tourism benefit Zimbabwe’s economy and contribute to wildlife conservation, maintaining the parks and services. Conservationists counter that more dollars could come from tourists who want to see the animals, rather than kill them.