In a variety of ways, humanity has had a profoundly harmful influence on animals. From sending them into volcanoes to overfeeding them when we shouldn’t, it’s no surprise that animals occasionally decide enough is enough and fight back.
Theunis Botha, a big game hunter, apparently learnt this lesson the hard way. His colleagues came upon a breeding herd of elephants while walking in the Zimbabwean settlement of Gwai. The elephants charged at the party after spotting the threat, and Botha fired a few shots.
One of the elephants lunged at him from the side and pulled him into the air with her trunk. Another hunter fired at the elephant in the hope that it would drop Botha and run. The shot, however, proved lethal, and when the elephant toppled, Botha slipped behind it and was crushed to death.
For obvious reasons, big game hunting is divisive. Although some claim that well controlled hunting has certain ecological advantages, the majority of it entails assisting in the extinction of particularly fragile species, which is unquestionably a horrible thing to do. Sure, poaching is significantly worse, and habitat damage isn’t helping, but legal hunting is compounding the situation.
On the most fundamental level, the conflict is unfair: these quite beautiful creatures do not anticipate people to sneak up on them, and when they do, they are equipped with long-range weapons, automobiles, and perhaps a helicopter. Killing a harmless animal for sport is not a respectable act, especially when the odds are stacked so highly against it.
This death, if anything, demonstrates that wildlife should not be overlooked. If people decide to murder them, they will resist – and occasionally, even in death, they will achieve a victory.
Botha, from South Africa, was apparently a well-known hunter in the region, and he frequently traveled to the United States to persuade wealthy Americans to participate in the sport. He was frequently spotted hunting with his hounds.
His tragedy is not the first hunting-related fatality this year. Scott van Zyl, a buddy of Botha’s, was searching for big game trophies in Zimbabwe in April when he was ambushed and devoured alive by crocodiles on the banks of the Limpopo River.