A trophy hunter who was leading a guided group to hunt an elephant for its tusks was trampled to death by a young bull elephant in Zimbabwe. For a story like this, one would probably assume that we would take some sort of almost celebratory stance in the face of a hunter finding himself the hunted, but we’re kinda not gonna go there. A man is dead, elephants are being hunted for trinkets and the entire thing pretty much blows.
Seriously, this just doesn’t need to happen.
The facts are these. Ian Gibson took a group of American hunters out in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley in the hopes of shooting a young bull elephant he’d been tracking. According to a statement written on AfricaHunting.com, the group came close to the elephant in the hopes of assessing his ivory when the elephant went into full charge and knelt on Gibson, crushing the hunter.
Once social media got wind of the story, there wasn’t a whole lot of sympathy flowing in for a guy who viewed endangered animals as dollar signs. “I wonder if the elephant took the guy’s teeth for their value,” one user queried, while another said, “I have zero sympathy for this hunter. I react to this the very same way I do when I see a bullfighter get mangled. BRAVO.” Still another commenter said, “The number of elephants is half what it was a decade or so ago and are dwindling fast. I don’t respect “hunters” who pay extraordinary fees and hire professional trackers killing shrinking numbers of elephants, rhinos, lions etc. just to feed their egos.”
Dude, those giant ivory tusks look like big parentheses with you in the middle. You could’ve just saved the elephant and wrote (asshat) on a piece of paper though.
In the camp of those who side with Gibson and other big game hunters, the argument was immediately made that the man was actually a conservationist. One person commented, “In modern times, the PH [professional hunter] is almost always an avid conservationist who works within the laws of the country to harvest wildlife that is mature and insure that the conservation of the species is well funded and that the species as a whole is healthy and at sustainable population levels.”
This is an argument for trophy hunting that has been thrown around time and time again, most recently when Ricky Gervais went after hunters who posted pictures of themselves beside felled giraffes on Twitter. It’s as ridiculous this time as always has been. Does the Louvre fund the preservation of priceless art by letting people pay to enter so they can judo kick the Mona Lisa in her smug forehead? If you’re trying to protect something, you don’t kill it. End of story.
Seems like a sensible plan.
While we can definitely understand the sentiments of those who regard Gibson and those like him with fury, we don’t celebrate anyone’s death (human or animal) and see the entire situation as utterly senseless. African elephants are being hunted to extinction, along with rhinos, for their tusks and horns. While bans on ivory are popping up in more and more countries every day, the fact remains that poaching and big game hunting are contributing to the problem and if things continue how they are, we could lose the African elephant entirely by 2030. That’s less than two decades away.
And as for Gibson? He should never have been there in the first place. Animals in the wild are…wild! We know this is a complete shocker, but it’s completely true. They are living, thinking beings with instincts for survival and they’re not really gonna be into hanging out with you, especially if they feel threatened.
Here’s a novel concept that can keep this situation from happening in the future. Let’s leave the wildlife the hell alone, m’kay? That way, we don’t have to make up a laundry list of justifications for our actions and attempt to hide under the banner of conservation as we blast them to smithereens, and they don’t have to fight for their lives and watch their numbers dwindle to nothing. There, both sides win.
Lead Image Credit: Daily Mail