One of the largest "tusker" elephants ever seen in Zimbabwe has been shot dead by a hunter. The killing comes just months after the gory death of Cecil the Lion, which caused global outrage.
The unnamed elephant is thought to have strayed out of South Africa's Kruger National Park and into Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou National Park, reports suggest. The mammal was killed on 8 October by a German hunter, who paid $60,000 (£38,800) for a permit to shoot the elephant. He was guided by an experienced, local hunter during his 21-day trip during which elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo and rhinoceros were considered targets.
The organisers have refused to release the name of the German national who slaughtered the animal, whose gigantic tusks skimmed the ground and weighed 120 pounds (54 kilograms). Initial information suggested that the creature was Nkombo, a famous bull-elephant from Kruger that lost its collar last year.
Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association chairman, Louis Muller said the elephant's killer only realised the true size of the animal after it had been shot. "He told me when he and his client were stalking this elephant he saw the tusks were big, but did not realize just how big until afterwards and he saw them close," Muller told the Telegraph. "He is going back to see if he can find the lower jaw and bring it back so we can accurately age this elephant.
An unnamed man who helped with organising the shoot launched a stern defence of the hunt. "This was a legal hunt and the client did nothing wrong," he said. "We hunters have thick skins and we know what the greenies will say. This elephant was probably 60 years old and had spread its seed many many times over."
News of the tusker's killing comes as rangers discovered the bodies of 26 elephants who died from cyanide poisoning in Zimbabwe's Hwange national park. That adds to the deaths of 14 elephants who were found just a week earlier.