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Big Game Hunter Was Killed When Shot Elephant Collapsed On Top Of Him

Big game hunter Theunis Botha was killed when an elephant collapsed on him. He was leading a hunting trip on a game reserve in Zimbabwe.

Professional Big Game Hunter

Botha, 51, was from South Africa. He guided his first hunt through the South African grasslands in 1989 as a college student. Botha used the money he earned from leading clients on hunting trips to pay for his college education.

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       He earned a degree in psychology and anthropology in 1991. He then began big game hunting full-time, and he started a hunting farm with his wife, Carike Botha. Eventually, Botha established private hunting ranches in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa. (2) 

His Final Hunt

Botha was leading a hunt at Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe. His group surprised a group of breeding elephants. Three of the cows charged the hunters. Botha fired at the elephants, but he was surprised by a fourth elephant cow that rammed into him from the side.

The fourth cow lifted Botha with her trunk. Another hunter shot the elephant. The elephant collapsed on top of Botha, killing him. (1)

Botha is survived by his wife and their five children. His body was transferred to Hwange Colliery Hospital’s mortuary the day after he was killed. His wife traveled to Zimbabwe to identify Botha’s body and transport his remains to South Africa to be buried. After Carike Botha posted about her husband’s death on their shared Facebook page, his fellow hunters responded with their condolences. They called him a “world-class houndsman”. (2)

However, not everyone felt sympathy for Botha or his family. Some people left harsh comments on the Bothas’ photos because of his profession as a hunter. The Business of Hunting

Botha spent 28 years running his hunting tour business. His website describes his business as a “passionate and professional hunting outfitter operation focussed on giving his clients a unique exciting African safari experience.” He attracted clients from around the world and frequently traveled to the United States to recruit clients. (2, 3)

The big game hunter’s specialty was the “Monteria hunt”. This is a European-style hunt that uses a pack of hounds to drive animals, like deer and boar, toward hunters, who then shoot the prey. Botha adapted this hunting style to southern Africa and used hounds to hunt lions and leopards. (2)

According to his website, “Theunis Botha perfected Leopard and Lion hunting safaris with hounds in Africa. He pioneered traditional European Style Driven Monteria hunts in South Africa.” (3)

Botha kept several different breeds of hounds in his kennels. The business had begun to breed hounds to sell due to demand from their clients. (4)

Hunting Fatalities

Just a few weeks before Botha’s death, his friend Scott Van Zyl was also killed by animals while hunting. Van Zyl, 44, disappeared while on a hunting expedition in Zimbabwe. He was on the trip with a pack of dogs and a local tracker. A few days after he disappeared, Van Zyl’s backpack was found on the banks of the Limpopo River. Two crocodiles were shot by authorities a week later. The contents of their stomachs matched Van Zyl’s DNA.

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