The Crazy Internet Buzz: A video depicting the killing of a crop-raiding elephant in Zimbabwe by Godaddy.com CEO Bob Parsons has sparked a hot debate in the international news media. Having been deluged with decades of anti-hunting propaganda, the average person probably thinks that the African elephant is tragically endangered, or as PETA VP Dan Matthews put it during a debate with Parsons, “on the fast-track to extinction.” So, what is it? Are elephants on the brink?
According to the World Wildlife Fund (not exactly SCI), there are between 470,000-690,000 African Elephants in the wild. I've seen others estimates that put the number at over a million. WWF’s website also states that “elephant populations in southern Africa are large and expanding, with some 300,000 elephants now roaming across the sub-region.” My own experience in Southern Africa is that, in many areas, elephant populations are well in-excess of their habitat's capacity.
Dumbo emotion aside, the fact is that elephant populations are stable and increasing. Sport hunting is the best friend elephants have-- something that will give me comfort when I chase them this August.
The Conclusion: Think what you may about the video, but don't think African elephants in Zimbabwe, or in general, are in trouble. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Like deer here, a few of them actually need killing for the betterment of the whole. All the better that the killing provides significant financial resources for game departments who protect both the habitat and the game.