A hunter who claims to have killed more than 5,000 elephants says he is “totally unrepentant” about his actions.
Ron Thomson revealed he has also hunted 800 buffalo, up to 60 lions, 50 hippos and about 40 leopards among other animals, according to his website.
He was identified in a report by the Campaign To Ban Trophy Hunting, which said African elephant populations have plummeted from around 1.3m in the 1980s to about 400,000 today.
In an interview with The Independent, Mr Thomson denied being a trophy hunter and insisted he killed the animals to help populations survive.
The Zimbabwean claimed African elephants are “nowhere near extinct” and when there are healthy populations “you must ensure they don’t increase beyond the capacity of their habitat”.
“I didn’t have any sentiment,” he said.
“I’m totally unrepentant, a hundred – ten thousand – times over for any of the hunting I’ve done because that’s not the problem.
“The problem is we’ve got a bunch of so-called experts from the West telling us what to do. I’m a trained university ecologist – I must surely know something about this.
He added that he no longer regularly hunts and insisted his actions were not out of “bloodlust” but part of his job.
According to his website, Mr Thomson, 77, worked with national parks and wildlife management for 58 years and his past posts included being the provincial game warden in charge of Hwange National Park, one of Africa’s biggest game reserves.
In a report published on Monday, the Campaign To Ban Trophy Hunting said the amount of ivory taken by trophy hunters has increased 12-fold over the past 30 years.
It named Britain as one of 12 countries whose hunters have taken more than 1,000 elephant trophies and brought home over a ton of ivory from animals killed for sport.
Demonstrators will march to 10 Downing Street on Saturday to hand in a letter calling for a ban on UK imports of hunting trophies – one of a series of protests taking place in 70 cities around the world.
Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign To Ban Trophy Hunting, said a recent surge in elephant hunting showed the industry is “out of control”.
“The trophy hunting industry is slaughtering elephants left, right and centre,” he said.
“Killing elephants for ‘fun’ is unacceptable, even more so because of the serious threat to its survival. Trophy hunting is a cruel and abhorrent hangover from colonial times.
“The recent surge in elephant hunting shows the industry is out of control. It threatens to push endangered species to the point of no return.”
The organisation said its letter has been signed by the leaders of 70 wildlife and animal welfare groups around the world and celebrities including Joanna Lumley, Sir Michael Palin and Ed Sheeran.
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