Facing an income shortage from the loss of tourism due to COVID-19, Zimbabwe has announced it will soon start selling rights to shoot 500 endangered elephants this year.
“We eat what we kill. We have a budget of about $25 million for our operations which is raised — partly — through sports hunting, but you know tourism is as good as dead at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Tinashe Farawo, a spokesman for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, told CNN.
The African forest elephant is now on the critically endangered species list and the savannah elephant is classified as endangered.
Simiso Mlevu, a spokeswoman for the Center for Natural Resource Governance, a Zimbabwe environmental and human rights advocacy group, told CNN the elephant-hunting decision was “appalling.”
“We strongly condemn trophy hunting — a practice that agitates wild animals and escalates human-wildlife conflicts,” Mlevu told the network. “It is almost certain that surviving families of wildlife families that witness the senseless gunning down of their family members mete out vengeance on the hapless local villagers.”
“Contrary to government arguments that trophy hunting is meant to assist with conservation, the practice is motivated by greed and often the money is not even accounted for,” Mlevu added. “There is a need for more innovative and eco-friendly measures to improve revenue generation from photo safaris and tourism in general.”