You’ll recall in September that I told you about some super-cheap elephant hunts on tap in Zimbabwe that were part of the ration quota program operated by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority in the national parks. These hunts were for non-trophy animals and the ivory non-exportable. Early in October, I received word that the hunts had been suspended amidst allegations of unethical and even illegal activities.
These hunts were an experiment by Parks and Wildlife this season, which was trying to raise additional funds for its programs. The Authority offered the hunts in various national parks to paying international clients through several safari operators who had approached the Authority with this idea. Usually these management and ration hunts are carried out by Parks and Wildlife employees with the primary purpose of culling surplus elephants from the parks and providing meat to local Zimbabweans. They also occur far from the tourist areas, where game viewing and photo safaris take place.
It seems that these and other protocols were not observed by at least some of the operators involved in this year’s program. I’m told that some rogue South African PH’s and Zimbabwean operators with colored backgrounds simply abused the program. Trophy elephants have been shot in the parks, and many elephant were shot right in the tourist areas and near roads where tourist activities take place. Some elephant were shot at waterholes, which is highly unethical and illegal. A Hunting Report subscriber who asked to remain anonymous was on one of these hunts and reports seeing the evidence himself. That subscriber also says there was quite a bit of rancor among Professional Hunters over these hunts, with one of the PH’s involved even receiving death threats. There is also word of certain operators selling these hunts when they did not have permits for them.
In light of all these developments, Parks and Wildlife has subsequently suspended the hunts and is re-considering how they might be properly conducted in more remote parts of the parks, far away from photographic tourists. The ration quota program, I’m told, is a necessary tool for Parks and Wildlife to meet conservation goals in the parks, where elephant populations continue growing and are destroying parts of the environment. The subscriber who wrote me about these hunts says he hunted in such areas, where he took three elephant. He says the damage is massive. “They had pretty much destroyed everything,” he wrote. The largest elephant he killed there was a 15-pounder.....