The recent death of Theunis Botha, the
professional hunter who was killed by the dead elephant falling on
him, has gone viral around the world.
The outpouring of venom against Botha is extreme
to say the least. The theme of most posts is that karma has caught
up with him and he should rot in hell. All posts are sympathetic to
the elephant, none to Theunis Botha.
I have not seen a single post that sends
condolences to Botha's wife and young children.
One of the questions I am asked the most is why
would anyone want to kill a majestic animal like an elephant, or a
big black maned lion or a magnificent leopard.
The answer lies in two parts:
The professional hunter that leads the safari is
a hired gun. His job is to find the client big trophies, see that
the client is safe and make sure that animal they are hunting dies
quickly. The professional hunter is supposed to hunt ethically and
within the letter of the law.
Professional hunters like Theunis Botha have
grown up on sheep and cattle farms. At a young age, they were
hunting jackal and caracal that attacked their father's sheep. They
would help their fathers to set gin traps to catch the leopard that
was killing their calves. For them hunting has always been and
always will be a way of life.
They don't intellectualize the killing of a big
elephant or a big lion. They are hunting for money, plain and
simple. The money they get from the hunting safari, pays the rent of
their house and it pays for their children's education.
I have seen a professional hunter crying when he
returned home from a safari, having shot lion, leopard, white rhino
and elephant to discover his dog had died. The death of the dog
affected him deeply for a long time.
The fact that by shooting the territorial male
lion, he may have caused the death of a dozen lion cubs, doesn't
resonate with him.
The trophy animals that his clients shoot, have
value to him because it puts money in his pocket.
The overseas tycoon hunter is a different animal
completely. He or she lives in a mega city. They live boring lives.
The man who shot Cecil the lion is a dentist. How boring can it be
to be looking into someone's mouth all day.
So the tycoon hunter is looking for an adrenalin
rush and an element of danger (But not too much danger please). The
only adrenalin rush he can achieve is when he puts through another
successful business deal.
The tycoon hunter lives in a world without danger
(as long as he can dodge the latest Isis suicide bomber)
Therefore the tycoon hunter hunts for
recognition. A hunting safari in Africa for the Big 5 is expensive.
By booking a safari, he sends out a message: I am wealthy, I am
The tycoon hunter has to get the message of his
success out, so he hires stills and movie photographers to film and
photograph himself with the animals he kills on the hunting safari.
In his home, the trophy room is the largest room
in the house. Here he can regale guests of how thrilling and how
dangerous his elephant hunt was. He even has the pictures and the
trophy to prove it.
The tycoon hunter is competitive. He is a member
of Safari Club International, the biggest hunting organization in the
world. Here he can compete for the best hunter of the year award and
he is competing with other tycoon hunters, peers so to speak!
Auctions are regularly held at Safari
Club International and here he can bid for a "black rhino hunt" in
Namibia. This is thrilling to outbid other wealthy tycoon hunters.
This brings him status, recognition and notoriety in the eyes of the
other tycoon hunters. It reinforces the same message: I am rich, I
am successful, I am clever, I outbid you!
So where does this primitive urge to hunt come
from? The cave man hunter that was swift and strong and clever and
brave, was the hunter admired, because he brought in the most food.
This cave man hunter had the pick of the
beautiful cave maidens. He had the best genes.
Hunting has a direct connection to power. Most
royalty around the world are steeped in hunting.
The British Royalty have traditionally been
hunters for many years. It is only now that we see Prince William
speaking out against the destruction of the planet and over hunting.
Prince Harry has actively joined anti poaching operations in Kruger
National Park and elephant relocations in Malawi.
Therefore, if I am a commoner and my king or
president is a big hunter, then surely what's good for them must be
good for me.
Teddy Roosevelt's hunting safaris when he was
president of the United States, are well documented.
Donald Trump has reversed all the laws that
Barack Obama instituted to make it more difficult to get a trophy
into the United States.
Donald Trump's sons are reputed to be selling
hunting safaris where the tycoon hunter pays $1 million just to get
on the hunt.
The same message surfaces: I am booked on a Trump
hunting safari, how rich am I, how successful must I be.
I hope I have in someway answered your questions.
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