A treasured elephant with magnificent tusks was shot down by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe last month. This incident has left people everywhere mourning for the loss.

The bull elephant’s beautiful so long that it almost reached the ground. He was being studied by researchers who had even fitted a radio collar on him. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to save him. It is estimated that only around 25 big tuskers are left on the planet.

“There is no law that protects a collared animal from being hunted in Zimbabwe,” the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), wrote in a statement. “But there is general acceptance that the ethical position is that a hunter will avoid shooting an animal with a collar.”

So many species are endangered or on the brink of extinction because of human greed. Elephants are dying far faster than they are being born because of demand for ivory and because of habitat loss. If strict measures are not taken against it, they could go extinct in our lifetime. The strong genes from this big tusker has been removed from the gene pool, which weakens the species even further.

“In trophy hunts, the elephants sought out are large males with big tusks as these make for the more ‘impressive’ kill,” a spokesperson from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), an organization that helps elephants by raising calves orphaned by poachers, said. “However, these older males are in fact the primary breeders and their size and age is in itself an indicator of their genetic health. Taking out these males removes this strong gene pool from wild populations, compromising the next generation of a species already in worrying decline.”

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“Human greed continues to outweigh the value of life,” said Scott Blaise, CEO of the Global Sanctuary for Elephants (GSE). “There are few elephants of this iconic status who remain; as trophy hunters take them out one by one, elephants as we know them may be forever changed.”

The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association (ZPHGA) is trying to pass off the death of this elephant “a genuine mistake due to a lack of communication.” A photo of the hunter, who allegedly traveled from Russia for the hunt, shows him posing proudly next to the dead elephant.

“Considering all we know about elephants, their sentience, their family structures and emotional capacity, trophy hunting is utterly unjustifiable and belongs in the past,” the DSWT spokesperson added. “For this elephant, his collar should have afforded him a safety net. Now, however, we’ll no longer be able to learn from this bull whose life was spent for the thrill of a kill.”

There are so many safer, more ethical recreational activities these days. It’s simply baffling to see how something as primitive as hunting is still going on today. Let’s hope the passing of this elephant creates more awareness about the dangers of recreational hunting to endangered species.

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