Theunis Botha, a big game hunter, died in Zimbabwe, a country in Southern Africa, when an elephant who suffered from a bullet wound fell on him.

According to his official website, Mr. Botha offered safaris in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

He specialized in using hounds to hunt down leopards and lions, though dozens of other animals are also listed on the site, including jackals, baboons, warthogs and hyenas.

Botha, who was 51 years old at the time of his death, started leading big game hunts back in the 1980s as a means to sponsor himself through college for a Psychology and Anthropology degree.

According to his company’s website, Theunis eventually built that gig into Theunis Botha Big Game Safaris, which became a full-time career and business for Theunis Botha.

The business grew to include hunting areas in Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

A Wounded Elephant Killed Theunis Botha

Theunis’ unfortunate death was reported on his company’s official Facebook page on May 22, 2017.

“It is with great sadness that we have learned that our great friend, and passionate Leopard man, Theunis Botha has passed away on a hunt in Zimbabwe. He was killed when an elephant breeding herd charged his party while on safari in Zimbabwe. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

Theunis was known as an expert houndsman who introduced the use of European-style “Monteria hunts” in South Africa.

The Monteria uses packs of trained dogs to chase game towards hunters ready to pull the trigger.

Although this hunting technique is typically used for smaller animals like deer, Botha honed the style for bigger beasts like leopards and lions. His website highlights that:

“Botha perfected lion and leopard hunting safaris with hounds in Africa, and he focused on giving his clients a unique and exciting African safari experience.”

Theunis Botha was on a 10-day licensed hunt with a group of hunters in Good Luck Farm when they came upon a group of breeding elephants.

The elephants charged at the group, who then opened fire. One of the elephants attacking from the side was dauntless despite continuous shooting by the hunters.

With its trunk, the creature lifted Botha from the ground. This prompted one of the other hunters to shoot.

The elephant eventually collapsed, landed on top of Botha, and both of them died. 

Botha specialized in hunting leopards and lions, which he’d hunt using hounds and either guns or arrows.

He wasn’t an elephant expert; perhaps, he would have survived the hound of breeding elephants if he was.

His Theunis Botha, Big Game Safaris website, features many photos of open-mouthed elephants collapsed in the trees, dead crocodiles with their mouths propped open with sticks, and old white guys, holding slouching leopard corpses.

Theunis Botha’s Death Met With Criticism

In a bid to recruit rich Americans for trophy hunts, Theunis Botha often traveled to the United States, according to The Telegraph.

He also kept a YouTube page where he posted lengthy videos of his hunting trips and worked alongside his dogs and clients.

Botha was a husband and father of five children. Fellow members of the hunting community expressed their condolences on social media after news of his death spread. 

C.J. Prinsloo, a friend of Theunis and a big game hunter, based in South Africa, however claimed that he deleted his post on Facebook to memorialize his friend after it was inundated with negative comments.

He said in a phone interview:

“People have been saying it’s a good thing that he died, and it makes me so angry.”

According to Mr. Prinsloo, anytime an elephant is killed by legal hunters, its meat feeds people in nearby communities.

Other defenders of big game hunting also claimed that it boosts tourism revenue in developing countries and can even help conservation efforts by effectively raising the value of wildlife in a way that discourages poaching.

Although licensed big game hunting is not illegal in Zimbabwe, Theunis Botha’s death sparked an outcry from critics of the practice, who say big game hunting is immoral and poses a threat to the survival of endangered species like elephants.

The World Wildlife Fund lists African elephants as “vulnerable,” noting that 415,000 are now living in the wild, down from three million, from five million a century ago.

Theunis Botha’s death is the second officially reported case of a big game hunter in two months.

Another South African, Scott Van Zyl, 44, who was also close friends Theunis, was killed and eaten by crocodiles in Zimbabwe last month after he disappeared in April. His remains were later found inside of a crocodile, The BBC reported.

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