After decades of leading high-paying clients into the African wild to hunt elephants, leopards and other large game, professional hunter Theunis Botha encountered a situation last week that he could not shoot his way out of.
The 51-year-old was leading a trophy hunt safari in Gwai, Zimbabwe, when the group unexpectedly came across a breeding herd of elephants. According to an anonymous source with the party, chaos swiftly ensued.
"Three elephant cows stormed the hunters and Botha shot at them," the source reported to Netwerk24. "A fourth cow stormed them from the side and one of the hunters shot her after she’d lifted Botha with her trunk. The shot was fatal and as the cow collapsed, she fell on Botha."
Theunis Botha pic.twitter.com/iwm96tgx28— 𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗶 (@haridalankan) May 22, 2017
Botha, who leaves behind a wife and five children, prided himself on his safari website for pioneering "European Style Driven Monteria hunts" in South Africa. Originating in Spain, these hunts use dogs to scare and drive large animals towards hunters lying in wait. In addition to videos profiling the hounds Botha used for his hunts, his website is also filled with photos of clients posing next to dead animals ranging from lions to antelope to gigantic elephants.
Botha's death comes only a few weeks after a close friend, fellow big game hunter Scott van Zyl, was killed in Zimbabwe. According to reports, van Zyl was reported missing after his dogs returned from a big game hunt without him. Authorities launched a search and traced van Zyl's footsteps to the edge of a riverbank. They later discovered his remains inside three Nile crocodiles.
When it comes to big game hunts, we know that our readers have passionate feelings on both sides of this violent sport. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, this is a good reminder of the power of Mother Nature and the risks anyone takes when pursuing large animals in the wild.