Elephant Killing Causes Internet Controversy

By Julian Jackson - 05 Apr 2011 18:7:0 GMT
Elephant Killing Causes Internet Controversy

CEO Bob Parsons, of internet service provider GoDaddy is a master of controversy, often flaunting GoDaddy Girls to advertise his site, and promoting his services by what he would probably see as ''Pushing the Envelope''. However he has perhaps gone too far by shooting an elephant and posting it on video:

The elephant was part of a herd apparently damaging crops of farmers in Zimbabwe, and so Parsons stalked them, shot one at night, and the rest ran away. His original video allegedly showed him parading round the corpse like a Great White Hunter of old.

If Parsons wanted controversy, he certainly got it: an avalanche of criticism has been whirling around the internet, and many people have been shifting their internet sites and domain names.

It seems that the Sorghum crops of the farmers had been trampled, but was it necessary to shoot this particular elephant? Elephant expert Jason Bell Leask, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is appalled, ''Shooting an elephant is not the answer to crop raiding.''

According to Bell Leask, this is mainly done by bull elephants, and it now appears that the animal shot at night was a young female. ''This particular female would have grown into a vital role in the family group so this killing was a damaging act. There's no proof that this particular elephant was involved in the crop raiding and the reality is that shooting an animal in the dark is not a way to guarantee a humane kill. Trophy hunting will not solve the problem of human-elephant interaction.''

He outlines more ethical ways to keep elephants out of crops near agricultural land.  For example, good, well-maintained fencing will stop them getting at the farmers' produce. Fields of chillies, which are more profitable than vegetables - on the border of the elephants' range will deter them: elephants don't eat chillies - no curries for them. This is a complex problem relating to the elephants' movement, the season - when they are under water stress they are more likely to get involved in crop raiding, and human expansion. Pro-active guarding of crops by the farmers at this time or lighting fires will keep them away, without harming any of these delightful animals.

Bell Leask insists that this is an issue of poverty and human expansion, and there will always be problems in the interactions between people and elephants but they can be managed humanely, He continues, ''Shooting elephants is never a solution to dealing with human-elephant conflict.

This is a symptomatic approach and does not deal with actual cause of the problem, which is usually related to poor conservation and/or land-use policies. In large parts of both Africa and Asia, human-elephant interactions will continue as long as the range of both people and elephants overlaps. Of course, pressure through human encroachment and associated habitat fragmentation exacerbates the scale of the interactions, often resulting in conflict. Case-specific mitigation strategies need to go hand in hand with proactive approaches from governments to address land-use policies.''

Animal charity PETA adds, ''Instead of coming up with flimsy excuses for killing these highly intelligent and social animals, Parsons should use his wealth to fund humane solutions to human/elephant conflicts.''