A renowned big game hunter from South Africa died Friday, May 19, from being crushed by a felled elephant while on a hunt in Gwai, Zimbabwe.
A member of the group of 51-year-old Theunis Botha fired at a storming elephant, which fell on him shortly as it was gunned down.
Details Of Unfortunate Incident
News 24 reported from Johannesburg, South Africa, that a hunting group was on a walk on Friday afternoon when they came across a breeding elephant herd near Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Three of the elephants stormed the hunters, Botha shooting at them.
Another elephant came storming in, and one of the hunters in the group shot her after she had lifted Botha using her trunk. The fatal shot made the elephant collapse and fall on Botha.
The park was the same one where Cecil the Lion was killed back in July 2015 by an American dentist. The hunting incident sparked outrage in the international community of animal activists and the general public, leading groups to rally at the clinic and residence of dentist Walter Palmer.
Simukai Nyasha, a spokesman for the park management, said in an Associated Press report that Botha was on a licensed 10-day hunt.
Highly Regarded Houndsman
Botha was survived by his wife, Carika, and five children.
Botha began to lead hunts in the 1980s in order to send himself to college. Eventually, he started Theunis Botha Big Game Safaris as his full-time business.
The company website stated that Botha was regarded as an expert houndsman pioneering European-style “Monteria hunts” in his home country. This method makes use of a pack of trained dogs to chase deer, boar, and other game toward hunting groups ready to open fire on the animals.
Botha specialized at hunting leopards using big game hounds.
“[Botha is] focused on giving his clients a unique exciting African safari experience,” the website further said of the hunter, who was also popular in Zimbabwe and usually traveled to the United States to invite rich Americans to do trophy hunting in the African region.
Botha was good friends with a hunter who was killed and then eaten by crocodiles in the same country last month. The 44-year-old Scott van Zyl went missing while hunting near the Limpopo River, and his remains (along with part of a Cat boot he was wearing when he disappeared) were discovered a week later in a crocodile shot by authorities during search operations.
It has been reported that Carika had traveled to Zimbabwe Monday to identify her husband’s remains and bring it back to South Africa.
While not everyone agrees with Botha’s work, other members of the hunting community condoled with his family and remembered him on their social media posts.
“Keep those Blues running and keep those big Toms on their toes. Until we meet again,” wrote John X Safaris on Facebook.
In Hwange National Park alone, a study showed that 69 out of 100 male lions died of “age-independent causes.” Findings suggested that many of them perish from hunting-related activities or from protecting farmers who guard their herds.