Wealthy businessman proudly stood next to the two elephants he murdered for photos

A photo of two hunters posing with two small dead elephants sparked outrage online. Featured were Mike Jines, an executive at an energy company, and professional hunter Max “Buzz” Delezenne during an expedition in Zimbabwe in October 2018. After the photo went viral, Jines received death threats from people enraged at the killing of baby elephants. However, Jines responded saying the elephants were mature and shot in self-defense [1][2]. Though the photo was released in 2019, it hints at the future of trophy hunting — or rather, the decline of it.

Viral photo of Mike Jines posing with a dead hunted elephant
Viral photo of Mike Jines posing with a dead hunted elephant. Image via Twitter

Trophy Hunter Condemned for Killing Elephants

After Jines and his company TopGen Energy received backlash, he released a statement.

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“The two (elephants) that are shown in the photos were shot in self-defense, in an unprovoked charge and both elephants were fully mature cows, not juveniles.”

He added that the kills occurred in a designated safari zone in compliance with U.S. and Zimbabwe hunting laws.

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While I can appreciate that hunting can be polarizing and that views on hunting can vary materially, I am sure that you can appreciate what it is like to deal with the vitriol particularly when the underlying information in this case is inaccurate.”

He and his company worked to overcome the public response after he got doxxed, meaning his personal information was published online. Plus, people wanted to boycott his business. Jines wanted to ensure people understand the “actual facts as opposed to the mischaracterization of the information on social media.” [1]

This social media outcry called for the ban on trophy hunting, especially when endangered species are involved. 

Trophy hunting may be more common than you think. Between 2004 and 2014, about over the trophy hunting business traded 200,000 animals from threatened species and 1.7 million animals from non-threatened species.

Advocates stated that “well-managed” hunting can help conservation as well as local communities by reinvesting the financial earnings into conservation efforts. The overall idea is that some animals die for the greater good of the species’ survival. However, while this may be true in some communities, it may not be for others. This could depend on the other species and locality, especially where there is a lack of effective government. Meaning the profits will go to wealthy operators and officials instead of into conservation efforts. [3]

Read: Trophy hunter shot sleeping lion – then celebrated as it writhed in agony before posing

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The UK’s Proposed Ban

The UK has proposed a ban on trophy hunting imports. However, a group of scientists and conservationists oppose this ban. They call it poorly conceived and harmful to the conservation efforts and livelihood of the local communities. For instance, Namibia and Botswana have good records of using trophy hunting to fund conservation. Instead, they proposed prohibiting canned” hunting locations, where animals breed in captivity. Plus, a ban on operations that don’t share the earnings with the rural community. 

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“We understand (and many of us share) the public’s instinctive dislike of trophy hunting,” the group states in a letter. “However, the reality is that no alternative land use has yet been developed which equally protects the wildlife and habitats found in these vital landscapes while also generating valuable revenues for local communities. Indeed, where trophy hunting has been subjected to bans, wildlife has often suffered, and conflict with communities has increased.”

This is not to claim that trophy hunting is perfect. It is beset with a variety of problems, including but not limited to the inequitable sharing of hunting revenues, inappropriate or poorly observed quotas, corruption and inadequate regulation. But tourism is not a perfect industry either.[4]

Will the Ban Help or Hurt?

Meanwhile, supporters of the ban argue it will protect threatened species while stopping a cruel activity. However, Leslé Jansen, CEO of the NGO Resource Africa, signed the above letter, stating the ban will hurt conservation and the rural communities.

“We have voiced these concerns many times, and have attempted to engage in the process. Why are Africans’ rights, views, and conservation successes continually ignored?” she said.

A Defra spokesperson said: “We are bringing forward ambitious legislation to ban the import of hunting trophies from thousands of species. This will be one of the toughest bans in the world, and goes beyond our manifesto commitment, meaning we will be leading the way in protecting endangered animals and helping to strengthen and support long-term conservation.”

Unfortunately, the solution may not be as simple as supporting trophy hunting or banning it. Alternative solutions are needed to better benefit the conservation of animals and the rural communities that rely on the income from hunting. Even those who oppose the cruelty of hunting oppose the ban because they believe it’s not the best answer to this issue. Frustratingly, there’s no simple solution. Still, it’s hard to definitively say that killing elephants is protecting the dwindling species. [5]

Keep Reading: Texas Trophy Hunter Reportedly Pays $110K To Kill Rare Mountain Goat in Pakistan

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Sources

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  1. “Georgia hunter threatened over photos with dead elephant speaks out.CBS News. January 21, 2019
  2. “Wealthy businessman condemned for killing two ‘baby’ elephants on hunting trip” Metro. February 19, 2019
  3. “Trophy hunting – can it really be justified by ‘conservation benefits’?The Conversation. Melanie Flynn. October 10, 2019
  4. “‘Poorly conceived’ trophy hunting bill puts wildlife at risk, UK government told.” The Guardian. Patrick Greenfield. January 13, 2022
  5. “Can we plan for a future without trophy hunting?Mongabay. Merrill Sapp. March 16, 2022
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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