British hunters, including a prominent Harley Street surgeon, have been paying the Zimbabwean authorities thousands of pounds each to take part in a mass elephant cull.
They are among groups of hunters who have been permitted to track and kill whole herds, including their calves, before taking photographs of themselves with the carcasses..
Ivory from slaughtered elephants has been legally sold by the Zimbabwean authorities to China and Japan. Last November, Zimbabwe sold nearly four tons of ivory in a one-off sale permitted under international law, for £330,000.
Carr, author of a forthcoming book, Death in the Bush Veldt, which includes chapters on hunting elephants and other big game, said: “The elephants are slowly turning the land there into a desert. I consider myself a champion for elephants but they must be culled, although it’s such an awful word it makes the bunnyhuggers spit their dummies out.
“No one feels great after culling a herd: it is quite a sombre mood. You have to kill all of them - if any escape they can spread panic in other herds.”
The so-called big five are the most popular prey. A bull elephant costs upwards of £6,500 and can be as expensive as £37,000. Lions cost between £8,000 and £15,000, buffalos from £6,000 and leopards between £8,000 and £15,000. White rhinos, which are often tranquillised with a dart rather than killed, start at about £5,000.
I'll defer commentary, but I think I know where the money goes...
Addendum: No, I've decided I won't defer commentary, because this story ticks me off. The great white hunter guide claims (perhaps correctly) that the cull is necessary because the population of elephants is increasing out of control and damaging the local ecosystem. But I'll bet the reason the elephants are proliferating is that previous hunters have already killed off the lions and other apex carnivores that would normally prey on the elephant herd. These African game reserves are like Macquarie Island. The next group of hunters they will bring in may need to be the rat hunters, followed by the cockroach hunters...