by Katie Kausch
Just a few months after Cecil the Lion's untimely and unnecessary death, one of Zimbabwe's largest elephants has been shot dead in a hunt.
The hunt was conducted legally, with the hunter paying a reported $60,000 for a permit. The organization who helped coordinate the hunt refused to provide the name of the hunter, The Telegraph reports.
The elephant was estimated to be between 40 to 60 years old (elephants can live as long as 70 years) and was killed in Gonarezhou National Park. His tusks weighed a combined 120 pounds, and were apparently so large they dragged on the ground.
Unlike Cecil, officials aren't immediately sure where the elephant came from, nor if he had been known to conservationists. "We checked everywhere and this elephant has never been seen before, not in Zimbabwe nor Kruger. We would have known it because its tusks are huge," Louis Muller, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters & Guides Association, told The Telegraph.
This is not the only elephant related tragedy to happen in Zimbabwe recently. The country has also been seeing a rash of elephant deaths caused by cyanide. Thirty elephants have been found dead in the past few weeks, many of them missing their tusks. Officials believe poachers are to blame, who sell the ivory tusks for a hefty sum. A similar incident occurred in 2013, also at the hands of poachers, where as many as 300 elephants died.
Poaching and hunting are a huge threat to elephant populations. The threat is so large that some conservationists expect the animals could be extinct as soon as 2025. Since the mid-20th century, elephant populations have decreased as much as 88 percent -- down from approximately 4 million to to 470,000.