Elephant Unlawfully Shot Eight Times & Killed By A Trophy Hunter In South Africa

Tragic news as a male elephant was killed in a deeply distressing and horrific trophy hunt at a local game reserve on September 3rd in South Africa’s Limpopo province. The elephant suffered through eight gunshots over an extended period of time before finally succumbing to his injuries.

This tragic episode contradicts the prevailing High Court interim interdict issued after a successful legal challenge brought by Humane Society International (HSI)/Africa in 2022 against the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and others. The interdict gained by HSI/Africa explicitly prohibits the allocation of permits for trophy hunting of African elephants, leopards, and black rhinos in South Africa.

This innocent elephant was killed at the Maseke Game Reserve, situated within the Balule Nature Reserve, by a hunting party consisting of a client, a hunting guide, a reserve representative, and a backup rifleman.

According to a publicly released letter issued by the Balule Nature Reserve, the client discharged the initial gunshot, wounding the elephant. The reserve representative and the hunting guide fired subsequent shots to bring the elephant down, however, these efforts also proved ineffective. The injured elephant sought to escape into the neighboring Grietjie Game Reserve, an ecotourism reserve, where trophy hunting is prohibited. The injured animal was followed on foot and a helicopter was called to the scene. The elephant was eventually located and was chased back into Maseke Game Reserve by the helicopter where he was killed by more gunfire. It is reported that approximately eight shots were discharged into the poor elephant before the heartbreaking scene was over.

“We are horrified by this unnecessary tragedy. Given the High Court’s interdict prohibiting the permitting of elephant hunts, the letter’s conclusion that this hunt was lawful is incorrect,” said Tony Gerrans, executive director of HSI/Africa.

“Furthermore, 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,” continued Gerrans. “To injure, chase, and kill any animal in this way is unacceptable.”

Balule Nature Reserve is a member of the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), a group of privately owned nature reserves bordering Kruger National Park. Animals can move freely across the borders of neighboring reserves. Within the APNR there are some reserves that allow trophy hunting and others that do not, which means that protected animals from one reserve, or even Kruger National Park, could possibly be killed by trophy hunters within another reserve.

“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,” Mr. Gerrans continued. “HSI/Africa has challenged the way this horrifying activity is permitted by the government, and we call on all South African wildlife administrators to abide by the High Court order which prohibits the permitting of elephant, leopard, and black rhino hunts until such time as the court can rule on the merits of the permitting process.”

“Ahead of Tuesday’s debate on a bill to ban UK imports of hunting trophies, this appalling killing is an incredibly timely reminder to members of the House of Lords of how much suffering these sick souvenirs cause. This ineptly shot elephant, suffering and staggering between a hunting reserve and an ecotourism reserve, is like a final desperate plea for Peers to understand the inhumanity of trophy hunting as a cruel colonial nightmare. British people whose hearts are broken for this poor animal look to the Lords to do the right thing and pass the bill unamended into law,” said Claire Bass, senior director of public affairs at HSI/UK.

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