By FRANCIS AKHALBEY – Face2faceAfrica
The fatal shooting of a very popular and tourist favorite 50-year-old alpha desert elephant known as “Voortrekker” by a trophy hunter in Namibia has been met with fierce criticism by conservation and tourism groups claiming it was unjustifiable.
Authorized by the Namibian government, Reuters reports the trophy hunter paid 120,000 Namibian dollars ($8,500) to take down the animal which was located in the Omatjete area after it was deemed to be a “problem-causing animal”.
“It’s unfortunate that the elephant was put down but we were left with no other alternative after this specific animal continued to cause damages to property in the area,” Romeo Muyunda, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism told Reuters.
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Muyunda added that they were left with no other option after local farmers threatened to take the law into their own hands and kill elephants that were encroaching their farmlands.
“It was better for us to do it this way than to ignore it, and allow the community to take the law into their own hands and destroy all the elephants,” he said.
However, conservancies around the area Voortrekker was shot begged to differ, claiming the animals don’t venture into the local communities.
“We understand that complaints have been received from communities living in the Omatjete area. The Ugab west population of desert elephants do not cross into those communities,” the Ugab Concerned Conservancies told Reuters.
“These elephants are our resources, and we object to them being hunted for problems caused by different populations of elephants,” the group added.
For many years, Africa has been a major tourist destination attracting thousands of travelers from all corners of the world. However, the once-rich African wildlife is quickly diminishing due to increased trophy hunting and illegal poaching.
While conservationists around the world continue to fight against wildlife poaching, many African countries allow controlled hunting, whereby a professional hunter will pay a fee to kill specified wild animals.
The killing of Voortrekker adds to the list of other popular and rare wildlife taken down that was met with fierce backlash.