Germany may block import of tusks from giant elephant shot by hunter in Zimbabwe


Melanie Hall, Berlin, and Peta Thornycroft

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Germany will consider blocking the import from Zimbabwe of the tusks of one of Africa’s biggest elephants killed by one of its nationals, it said on Friday amid growing global outrage over the hunt.

The country’s nature conservation agency said it had in the past refused entry for animals killed in trophy hunts and would not hesitate to do so in this case if the hunt had infringed German wildlife regulations.

Some conservationists believe the animal migrated north from South Africa’s Kruger National Park into Zimbabwe before it was killed. If confirmed, the hunt would be classed differently because the animal had crossed state borders and the trophy import would be banned, Germany said.

However, EU officials and Zimbabwean hunting experts questioned the legal distinction, raising speculation about why Germany might wish to prevent the import of the high-profile hunting trophy.

It came as animal rights group Peta’s Germany branch announced on Friday that it was offering a reward to anyone who could identify the as-yet unnamed hunter.

“We haven’t yet had anyone come forward with information. It’s important that we try to show that a German can’t just go abroad to satisfy his desire for hunting,” said Vanessa Reithinger, Peta’s campaign coordinator in Germany.

Celebrities including Ricky Gervais have condemned the killing of the massive “tusker”, which was shot on October 8 in a private hunting concession bordering Zimbabwe’s southern Gonarezhou National Park by a hunter who paid $60,000 (£39,000) for his prize.

The elephant was one of several different species he shot during a 21-day hunt. The man had a permit to hunt and was accompanied by an experienced professional hunter who told The Telegraph on Friday he had already shipped the tusks to Germany, having had them stamped by Zimbabwe’s National Parks Authority and filled in the relevant export forms.

The Nature Conservation, which issues import permits to Germany, said it would “definitely not” issue a certificate if the elephant was proven to have come from the Kruger. “The hunter might have shipped the tusks, but he then wouldn’t have the proper documentation,” he said.

Nixon Dzingai, the professional hunter who led the hunt, said the elephant had arrived unexpectedly one morning towards the end of the German’s trip, and they had not realised the size of his tusks until it was too late.

“We did not have to stalk the elephant it just showed up at 7.30 in the morning, before the heat. I was so surprised when we saw how the horns. My client did not ask for this, he just wanted an elephant,” he told The Telegraph.

He defended the hunt as legitimate however, pointing to the age of the elephant. “I estimate this one was 60 years-old,” he said. “Anyone could see it was a very old elephant.”