Some animal rights activists and animal lovers are outraged at GoDaddy.com CEO Bob Parsons after he posted online a video of himself hunting and killing an elephant, MyFoxPhoenix.com reports.
The “vacation video” shows Parsons in Zimbabwe criticizing the “damage” elephants cause to farmers’ crops, a common complaint in the region.
“Unless elephants are stopped entire crop may be lost,” reads a video caption. “When crops are lost subsistence farmers risk starvation.”
As the hunters wait for elephants to arrive, night falls and a spotlight is shone on an approaching bull elephant. Parsons fires first, killing the elephant. Villagers arrive in chaotic masses the next morning to eat the elephant meat.
On his personal blog, Parsons says that he hunts “problem elephants” because it’s “so helpful for the local residents.” He also explains that he only hunts in regulated areas and that in these areas there is no concern about elephants becoming extinct, according to MyFoxPhoenix.com.
But Twitter is abuzz with people criticizing Parsons’ actions -- some saying they wonder whether the successful businessman was actually helping villagers, and others threatening to take their business elsewhere.
Parsons, whose Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company provides domain and Web hosting services, told MyFoxPhoneix.com Tuesday that he “kind of figured that this might happen.”
“So be it, I'm not ashamed of what I did... All these people that are complaining that this shouldn't happen, that these people who are starving to death otherwise shouldn't eat these elephants, you probably see them driving through at McDonald cutting a steak. These people (in Zimbabwe) don't have that option,” he told the station by phone.
Conflict with humans is the biggest threat to the African elephant, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
"As the elephants continue to raid crop fields, farmers are being killed while trying to defend their fields and elephants are becoming the source of resentment and anger by the local communities," World Wildlife Fund says on its website.
Grey Stafford, director of conservation at the Wildlife World Zoo in Arizona, suggested that people like Parsons with the financial means to do so should get behind nonviolent efforts to alleviate the decades-old human-elephant conflict, such as relocating the animals away from villages.
“The ever expanding human population on a shrinking planet makes these deadly conflicts more likely in the future and while elephants may ‘win’ a few battles, their species most certainly will lose the war unless we humans change our ways fast,” Stafford said.
Parsons told MyFoxPhoenix.com that he plans to return to Zimbabwe next year.