Humanity, in plenty of ways, has had a profoundly negative impact on wildlife. From throwing them into volcanoes to overzealously feeding them when we shouldn’t, it’s not surprising that animals sometimes decide that they’ve had enough, and fight back.
Big game hunter Theunis Botha reportedly learned this lesson the hard way. Stalking around the Zimbabwean village of Gwai, his colleagues stumbled across a breeding herd of elephants. Spotting the threat, the elephants then charged at the group, and Botha fired off a shot or two.
Ambushing him from the side, one of the elephants charged towards him, and lifted him up in the air with her trunk. Another hunter shot the elephant, hoping that it would drop Botha and flee. The shot proved to be fatal, however – and as the elephant collapsed, Botha fell beneath it and was subsequently crushed to death.
Big game hunting is controversial for several obvious reasons. Although some argue that there are some ecological benefits to carefully managed hunting, in reality, most of it involves helping to wipe out extremely vulnerable species, which is undoubtedly a terrible thing to engage in. Sure, poaching is far worse, and habitat destruction does not help, but legal hunting is only exacerbating things further.
On a very basic level, the fight is unfair: these rather majestic animals are not expecting humans to sneak up on them, and when they do, they’re armed with long-distance rifles, cars and sometimes a helicopter. There’s nothing dignified about killing a harmless animal for sport, especially when the odds are stacked so heavily against it.
This fatality, if anything, shows that wildlife shouldn’t be underestimated. If people decide to try and kill them, they’re going to resist – and sometimes, they’ll score a win, even in death it seems.
Botha, from South Africa, was reportedly a well-known hunter in the region, and he often ventured to the US to encourage high-income Americans to join in on the sport. He was often seen hunting with his dogs.
His demise isn’t the first hunt-related death this year. One of Botha’s friends, Scott van Zyl, was on the search from some big game trophies in Zimbabwe back in April when he was attacked and eaten alive by crocodiles on the banks of the Limpopo River.