“It’s Survival of the Weak and Scrawny”….

“A victim of trophy hunters.”

A German Hunter Killed One of Africa’s Biggest Elephants

Conservation groups in Zimbabwe aim to find the identity of the hunter to give him the ‘Cecil the lion’ treatment.

Germna trophy hunter kills one of Africa's biggest elephants Yahoo news

October 16, 2015

By Taylor Hill

“Associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.”

A German trophy hunter reportedly shot and killed one of the largest elephants recorded in nearly 30 years, and now a Zimbabwean conservation group wants to make him infamous, like the killer of Cecil the lion.

The 40- to 60-year-old elephant was shot just outside Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park and had tusks weighing more than 100 pounds each, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairperson Johnny Rodrigues said in a statement.

“His tusks were so big that they dragged along the ground when he was walking,” Rodrigues said. This elephant was unknown to wildlife rangers at the park and might have wandered across the border from South Africa into Zimbabwe, where the unidentified hunter shot and killed it.

According to The Telegraph, the hunting organization that led the guided hunt has refused to name the hunter, who paid $61,000 to participate in a 21-day excursion that ended Oct. 8 with one dead elephant. But Rodrigues said the conservation group is going to find out the hunter’s identity.

“The authorities and the hunters’ association are trying to protect him, but we’ve got his photograph,” Rodrigues told The Guardian.




  In light of this egregious killing of one of Africa’s largest elephants, by a German trophy hunter,  it seemed fitting to repost a piece I did back in 2012 that examines how hunting may be altering and weakening species. Hunters with “tiny ego’s” have a penchant for killing the biggest and fittest animals, leaving smaller, weaker animals to breed.  A form of reverse evolution.


June 26, 2012

It turns out hunting animals may be more harmful than we thought,  especially trophy hunting.  It could be causing a kind of backward evolution, because the largest and most impressive animals, “prized” by hunters, are diminishing in some species, leading to a reduction in  size and other disturbing changes in the remaining animals.  In other words, the more robust members of certain species are disappearing, not by the process of “natural selection” but by hunting pressure. It’s as if hunters are selectively breeding animals in the wild by killing off the “trophy” animals, leaving the smaller and weaker individuals to breed.

Big horned sheep rams in Alberta, Canada have experienced a 25% decrease in horn size over the last thirty years. Being larger, with huge horns makes them a target for trophy hunters. It then follows the smaller sheep with less impressive horns, have more mating chances.

“Hunters frequently compare their role in the ecosystem to that of natural predators, some of which are disappearing throughout the world. The problem with that analogy is that, unlike hunters, natural predators target the small, the weak, and the sick. Hunters, on the other hand, tend to target the largest, strongest individuals with the largest hides, horns, tusks or antlers.”

It’s not just Big Horned sheep, elephants are also changing.

“Tusks used to make elephants fitter, as a weapon or a tool in foraging—until ivory became a precious commodity and having tusks got you killed. Then tuskless elephants, products of a genetic fluke, became the more consistent breeders and grew from around 2 percent among African elephants to more than 38 percent in one Zambian population, and 98 percent in a South African one. In Asia, where female elephants don’t have tusks to begin with, the proportion of tuskless elephants has more than doubled, to more than 90 percent in Sri Lanka. But there’s a cost to not having tusks. Tusked elephants, like the old dominant males on Ram Mountain, were “genetically ‘better’ individuals,” says Festa-Bianchet. “When you take them systematically out of the population for several years, you end up leaving essentially a bunch of losers doing the breeding.”

The effects that are taking place are difficult to link solely to hunting pressure @ this early stage because evolutionary changes happen so slowly but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or hundreds of years of evolution to observe what’s happening.  Trophy hunters target the “biggest and the best”, therefore there are fewer of these alpha animals to pass on their genetics.

 The solution is to err on the side of caution and ban trophy hunting entirely. It’s a cruel and heartless enterprise, there would be no down side to freeing animals from this torture.  It doesn’t belong in a civilized society and should  be eliminated for purely ethical reasons BUT if it’s actually upsetting the natural process and weakening animal species, then all the more reason to rid the world of it.

A 2009 Newsweek article explains it all. Hunters not only don’t play the same positive  role as apex predators, like the wolf and grizzly bear but may be the cause of a deadly reverse evolution.

How Hunting is Driving “Evolution in Reverse.”



It’s Survival of the Weak and Scrawny

Jan 2, 2009 7:00 PM EST

Researchers see ‘evolution in reverse’ as hunters kill off prized animals with the biggest antlers and pelts.

Some of the most iconic photographs of Teddy Roosevelt, one of the first conservationists in American politics, show the president posing companionably with the prizes of his trophy hunts. An elephant felled in Africa in 1909 points its tusks skyward; a Cape buffalo, crowned with horns in the shape of a handlebar mustache, slumps in a Kenyan swamp. In North America, he stalked deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and elk, which he called “lordly game” for their majestic antlers. What’s remarkable about these photographs is not that they depict a hunter who was also naturalist John Muir’s staunchest political ally. It’s that just 100 years after his expeditions, many of the kind of magnificent trophies he routinely captured are becoming rare.

Elk still range across parts of North America, but every hunting season brings a greater challenge to find the sought-after bull with a towering spread of antlers. Africa and Asia still have elephants, but Roosevelt would have regarded most of them as freaks, because they don’t have tusks. Researchers describe what’s happening as none other than the selection process that Darwin made famous: the fittest of a species survive to reproduce and pass along their traits to succeeding generations, while the traits of the unfit gradually disappear. Selective hunting—picking out individuals with the best horns or antlers, or the largest piece of hide—works in reverse: the evolutionary loser is not the small and defenseless, but the biggest and best-equipped to win mates or fend off attackers.

When hunting is severe enough to outstrip other threats to survival, the unsought, middling individuals make out better than the alpha animals, and the species changes. “Survival of the fittest” is still the rule, but the “fit” begin to look unlike what you might expect. And looks aren’t the only things changing: behavior adapts too, from how hunted animals act to how they reproduce. There’s nothing wrong with a species getting molded over time by new kinds of risk. But some experts believe problems arise when these changes make no evolutionary sense.

Ram Mountain in Alberta, Canada, is home to a population of bighorn sheep, whose most vulnerable individuals are males with thick, curving horns that give them a regal, Princess Leia look. In the course of 30 years of study, biologist Marco Festa-Bianchet of the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec found a roughly 25 percent decline in the size of these horns, and both male and female sheep getting smaller. There’s no mystery on Ram Mountain: male sheep with big horns tend to be larger and produce larger offspring. During the fall rut, or breeding season, these alpha rams mate more than any other males, by winning fights or thwarting other males’ access to their ewes. Their success, however, is contingent upon their surviving the two-month hunting season just before the rut, and in a strange way, they’re competing against their horns. Around the age of 4, their horn size makes them legal game—several years before their reproductive peak. That means smaller-horned males get far more opportunity to mate.

Other species are shrinking, too. Australia’s red kangaroo has become noticeably smaller as poachers target the largest animals for leather. The phenomenon has been most apparent in harvested fish: since fishing nets began capturing only fish of sufficient size in the 1980s, the Atlantic cod and salmon, several flounders and the northern pike have all propagated in miniature.

So what if fish or kangaroos are smaller? If being smaller is safer, this might be a successful adaptation for a hunted species. After all, ” ‘fitness’ is relative and transitory,” says Columbia University biologist Don Melnick, meaning that Darwinian natural selection has nothing to do with what’s good or bad, or the way things should be.

Read more:



“In the Shadows of the Congo Basin Forest, Elephants Fall to the Illegal Ivory Trade”


Top Photo: Christophe Morio/Africahunting
Middle Photo: (Facebook)
Bottom Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Posted in: Trophy Hunting
Tags: Hunting pressure, species evolution in reverse, smaller is not better, hunted animals, damage done by trophy hunting, Newsweek, Daily Beast, takepart

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25 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on Exposing the Big Game.


  2. Not to sound crude, but this gun wielding man may be lacking in his anatomy so much so that he has to kill a big, big animal to feel manly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They deserve crude. White men: duller than dirt, boring, passionless, coldblooded and violent, and so insecure in their manhood that throughout history they have had to dominate other men that threaten them (if only in their minds), dominate women, dominate animals, and for whom money is all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In fact, now that I think of it, the title of Nabeki’s post “Survival of the Weak and Scrawny” just may be the white man’s motto. Sorry everyone, just trying to bring a little humor into a bad situation.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not entirely passionless, they have passion for killing. This elephant is supposedly the largest in recent memory according to articles, and this man just wants to kill it. He won’t reproduce and revitalize the herd, and then 40 others were also poisoned with cyanide. It has to stop or these animals will go extinct in our lifetimes! It may be ‘legal’ to trophy hunt, but it is far from ethical and moral.

        I don’t know what is happening in the world – we seem to be going backwards. The Danes are going back to the age of Vikings and Vandals, and the ‘unnamed German’ reference to this elephant killer sounds like a fugitive Nazi war criminal! And America is headed backward too – I see they are really going to town killing wolves, and they need to remember that states rights were settled in the Civil War era. Disgusting.


      • We have taught “Me and what I want to do” to the downfall of everything around us. Civilization really is going backward and we are allowing it by silence or actual participation. We will fall by our own hand as we destroy everything around in us in our conquest for greed and our own seedy pleasures. I am becoming more and more ashamed of The Human Race. Nice people shrug and stay silent as these things happen, a silent permission.I pray for us to change as I fear for mankind. The planet will not put up with this forever. The planet will stay alnd we will go.


    • I was thinking the same thing!


  3. Reams of science are supporting the maladaptation being caused by “sport” hunting.
    Here’s just two recent ones:

    The unique ecology of human predators. Chris T. Darimont, Caroline H. Fox, Heather M. Bryan,and Thomas E. Reimchen Science 21 August 2015: 349 (6250), 858-860. [DOI:10.1126/science.aac4249]
    “humans kill adult prey, the reproductive capital of populations, at much higher median rates than other predators (up to 14 times higher), with particularly intense exploitation of terrestrial carnivores and fishes. Given this competitive dominance, impacts on predators, and other unique predatory behavior, we suggest that humans function as an unsustainable “super predator,” which—unless additionally constrained by managers—will continue to alter ecological and evolutionary processes globally.”

    14x higher:
    A most unusual (super)predator. Boris Worm Science 21 August 2015: 349 (6250), 784-785. [DOI:10.1126/science.aac8697]

    Human predation/hunting/exploitation quickly leads to deleterious changes in exploited species…”such alterations to phenotypes might also generate large and rapid changes in population and ecological dynamics including those that affect population persistence. For example, because life history shifts to reproduction at smaller sizes and younger ages can reduce fecundity in many organisms, declines in harvestable biomass or instability in population growth might also develop rapidly in exploited prey.
    Additionally, the uniquely fast phenotypic changes that occur under
    harvest might not be mirrored by interacting organisms (i.e., predators,
    competitors) or by populations released from harvest. Thus, urgent questions include whether interacting species can keep pace with changes in exploited prey and how long ‘phenotypic restoration’ of harvested populations might require should that become a goal for population or ecosystem recovery.”

    Chris T. Darimont, Stephanie M. Carlson, Michael T. Kinnison, Paul C. Paquet, Thomas E. Reimchen, Christopher C. Wilmers, Gretchen C. Daily
    Human Predators Outpace Other Agents of Trait Change in the Wild.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 106, No. 3 (Jan. 20, 2009), pp. 952-954

    I use info like this sometimes to argue AGAINST Valerius Geist’s (Russian-born Canadian mammalogist – hates wolves, by the way, though he studied them)
    “North American Model of Wildlife Management.”

    Some major flaws: Lethal management of social species and carnivores seriously impairs the abilities of young to learn. Social learning is vital to bears, wolves, to some great extent even in the less-social cat species – cougar, Lynx, Bobcat, as their mother teaches sometimes gradually developing hunting/capture skills.(when cougars are targeted, it also appears that males expand their territories, which causes exclusion of territory for the young.

    In order to deal properly with Geist’s and followers’ ideas that human killing is management, you’ll have to do a bit of research
    – BUT IT’S VITAL THAT YOU CONTEND AGAINST THIS NA MODEL. It is the rationale used even when they argue for killing rhinos, etc. to “save” them.

    On elephants. all the elephant biologists are for ending human killing of them.
    For the latest heartbreaking, yet meaningful look at elephants, read:

    Carl Safina “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel”

    The first third of the book is elephant observations – they are huge, caring creatures, who can identify individual humans, and seem to have the ability to recognize more individuals than can humans.

    The second third of the book covers his experiences and stories while observing to Wolves, and the explanations and histories told by wolf watchers there. More distant and more vague than the elephant part, it is still worth your read.


  4. Oh –
    Without the moderating influence of the BIG male elephants, the young males become more aggressive, and conflicts with humans vastly increase.
    Soon as a big male like this poor dead one, is present, young males LEARN to be mellow.
    The social learning I spoke above and elsewhere is hugely important in elephant lives.They must not be killed.


  5. I really can’t believe the kind of mind that would do this, and threaten the future of all species by taking the biggest and strongest animals just for selfishness and greed. What kind of people are they? The kind that have committed genocide on all continents too.


    • I[m not singling out just the ‘Unnamed German’. There’s something about Europeans, a conquering and destroying race. Most every problem in history can be attributed to them. I can say that as a person of European descent. It’s hearbreaking.


      • The Crusades, two World Wars, the British Raj, Manifest Destiny and killing Native Americans, Slavery, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, French Indochina, deliberately killing off bison and wolves, have I missed anything?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes, Nazi Germany deserves its own category all by itself.


  6. I am so damn sick of seeing puny, over-the-hill, past-their-prime specimens of humanity posing in triumph with the bodies of magnificent animals whose lives they have taken. They are disgusting. I hope we can find out who this substandard member of the species is so that he can find out what Dr. Palmer did–that they deserve all the shame they get. They should not forget what they did for the rest of their lives. At least they still have lives to live, unlike the elephant and Cecil.


  7. Palmer wanted an elephant like that too – he’s probably green with envy!


  8. What a sad sad day.


  9. It shocks me that people want to kill beautiful animals. However, it enrages me that we allow trophy hunting to continue. As long as we allow trophies to pass through borders this will continue. As long as we don’t throw the book at these people, this will continue. And in the meantime elephants will continue to face a very uncertain future as they nudge towards extinction.


  10. Man is proving more and more to be the downfall of every part of life on this planet. From abusiveness towards domestic pets to their fellow man. All trapping, snaring, gassing, poisoning, clubbing and trophy hunting should be banned, and those caught doing so should be jailed, and nothing less, no matter who you are. It’s time to stand up and fight for animal rights. If you are dependent on certain animals for food, that’s understandable, but, those who kill for fun are just sick in the head.


  11. Reblogged this on Sherlockian's Blog.


  12. i think the people/government of Africa should get off their asses and find another way to support their people besides killing off the wildlife..


  13. Heartbreaking. Elephants in India cannot reach water because they put a golf course through their migratory route. Please sign the petition. Thank you


  14. This is nauseating.
    Really it needs to be one hundred percent banned – none of this claiming it pays for conservation. They are removing the largest most magnificent animals and fish from the waters and lands. I thought at least that there were restrictions on slaughtering the biggest: elder statsmen/ alphas. But rules don’t matter they even take mothers and babies. Reprehensible .. How do they smile afterward – disgusting.


    • I agree. It seems that protection for these animals is verbal only.Laws without enforcement are laws that have no power. If this does not change we will lose the battle to save these beautiful endangered animals.We are supposed to be netter stewards.


  15. The Cecil the Lion Treatment turned out to be letting him go without any punishment legally.Thus I am assuming since they set that precindent this one will go free. I hope not since having no cosequences means this is okay to do and of no protection for these valued animals.


  16. ZIMBABWE is the worst place for wildlife, they are hypocrites, they are after big money, they will never lawsuit anybody, they will never legislate on favor of animals, all they do is for the eyes of media to have more time to kill more animals to line their pockets. Shame and disgust on them. I didn’t expect more!!!!!!


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