While leading a hunting trip on a game reserve in Zimbabwe, South African big game hunter Theunis Botha was killed when an elephant collapsed on him.
Botha, 51, guided his first hunt through the South African grasslands in 1989 as a college student. He used the money he earned from leading clients on hunting trips to pay for his college education.
In 1991, he earned a degree in psychology and anthropology and then began big game hunting full-time. Together with his wife, Carike, he started a hunting farm, and eventually established private hunting ranches in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa.
Botha spent 28 years running his hunting tour business, which attracted numerous clients from around the world. On his website, the business is depicted as a “passionate and professional hunting outfitter operation focused on giving his clients a unique exciting African safari experience.”
His specialty was the “Monteria hunt”, a European-style hunt that uses a pack of hounds to drive animals, such as deer and boar, toward hunters, who then shoot the prey. He used hounds to hunt lions and leopards, and pioneered traditional European Style Driven Monteria hunts in South Africa.
Due to the high demand, he even started breeding hounds to sell. According to the website, Theunis Botha Big Game Hound Kennels have been known for their excellence in breeding, big game hounds, renowned for their cold trailing ability and tenacity.
The kennels are reported to offer hunting dogs and hounds selected from the world’s leading breeders and bloodlines for ability, and their working style is deeply seated in the tradition of French hunting and historically correct working style.
At the day of the accident, Botha was leading a hunt at Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe when the group was surprised by a group of breeding elephants.
Sensing the danger, three of the animals stormed the hunters and Botha shot at them, but he was surprised by a fourth elephant cow that rammed into him from the side.
She lifted him with the trunk, and another hunter shot it, so the elephant collapsed on top of Botha, crushing him to death.
The next day, Botha’s body was transferred to Hwange Colliery Hospital’s mortuary, and after his wife identified him, she transported his remains to South Africa to be buried.
Hunter Steve Scott, who described himself as a friend of Botha, announced his death on Twitter, and Botha’s daughter also confirmed his death to the BBC, but did not provide details.
The Facebook post about his death led to mixed emotions among people, and while his fellow hunters responded with their condolences, calling him a “world-class houndsman”, many left harsh comments on the Bothas’ photos because of his profession as a hunter.
Of all of the game animals in Africa, none seem to capture the attention of the big game hunter quite like the Big Five, a term coined by big-game hunters, which refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot: the elephant , Cape buffalo , lion , rhinoceros, and leopard.
According to John Taylor, author of “Big Game and Big Game Rifles” and an ivory hunter in his own right, the ‘big game hunting on the African continent’ translates to a hunting dangerous game.
He claims that none can turn the tables on the hunter so quickly and so completely as the members of the Big Five, and the resulting rush of adrenalin is the very essence of that which brings so many hunters to Africa.