Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Zimbabwe: To hunt or not to hunt?

On the tusks of a dilemma
On the tusks of a dilemma

Sport hunting for elephants in Zimbabwe has become quite a political football.

A recent report in UK’s Telegraph, for example, all but pillories a German hunter who killed an elephant reported to have the largest tusks taken in 30 years. The man reportedly paid a $60,000 trophy fee in exchange for the ability to hunt and kill the animal. Wildlife preservationists and photo-safari owners reportedly are livid over the killing.

At almost the same time, a report about an outbreak in elephant poaching appeared in the Washington Post. It quoted Zimbabwe’s environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri, as blaming the United States’ 2014 ban on importation of elephant trophies for the outbreak. Without the trophy fees paid by hunters, Muchinguri said, Zimbabwean wildlife officials can’t afford adequate patrols to deter poachers from wreaking havoc.

So on one side, you have a faction that believes that eco-tourism dollars should be perfectly sufficient to maintain wildlife populations, and on the other side you have a faction that believes sport hunting is the better way to go.

Which faction will win the day? Stay tuned.