Big game hunter Theunis Botha was out to kill animals in South Africa but got a taste of his own medicine when he was crushed to death by an elephant. Netwerk 24 in the Rainbow Nation reports that Botha had taken a group of hunters into the bush in Gwai, Zimbabwe, on May 19. The station says that the a group of female elephants charged at the group in an area known as Good Luck Farm.
As Botha prepared to shoot, another elephant ran at him from the side, capturing the hunter in her tusk. One of Botha’s co-hunters shot the elephant who proceeded to fall on Botha, crushing him to death.
A spokesman for Zimbabwe National Parks told the Associated Press that Botha was on a 10-day licensed hunt. He was 51 years old.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Botha Operated a Tour Company That Brought Rich Foreigners to Africa to Kill Animals
Botha founded Theunis Botha Big Game Safaris and Hounds in 1989. The company specializes in bringing the rich and wealthy to the African bush to kill animals. Specific targets of the hunts include lions and leopards. Botha says on his website that he pioneered the style of Monteria hunting in South African. Monteria hunting is hunting with dogs.
Botha operated the company with his wife, Carike. IOL reports that Carike Botha will travel to Hwange in Zimbabwe to identify her husband’s body.
On his official website, Botha says that his family first came to South Africa in 1878. The Botha family adapted to life in their new home by becoming hunters and operating farms. The page reads, “In the year of ’66 Theunis became the latest addition to this family, and was privileged to be raised in the ways of the bush and its people.”
The company’s first official client was Bill Reynolds from Montana. According to the page, Reynolds shot and killed a leopard on his first day on the hunt, close to the famed Kruger National Park. The Independent reports that Botha “traveled regularly” to the U.S. in order to court expensive clients. His company offers tours in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia.
2. In April 2017, One of Botha’s Close Friends Was Killed by Crocodiles in Zimbabwe
The Netwerk 24 report on Botha’s death also says that he was a close friend of Scott van Zyl, 44. In April 2017, van Zyl, a fellow big game hunter, was killed in Zimbabwe by a group of crocodiles while fleeing elephants.
Van Zyl is thought to have been killed along the Limpopo River. After DNA samples were taken from two crocodiles, it was determined that they had been responsible for the hunter’s death.
Netwerk 24 reports that one of van Zyl’s boots was found in a third crocodile.
The Daily Telegraph reported at the time that van Zyl ran a company, SS Pro Safaris, that was similar to Botha’s. The same report says that four people had been killed in Zimbabwe by crocodiles between March and April 2017. Heavy rains were blamed for the uptick with the animal’s being forced from their regular habitats.
The group, One Green Planet, released a controversial statement after van Zyl died. It read:
[He] shouldn’t have been hunting in the first place. Animals in the wild… are wild! They are living, thinking beings with instincts for survival.
OGP then released a verbatim statement upon Theunis Botha’s death, with the names changed.
3. Botha’s Daughter Has Turned Her Facebook Page Into a Shrine for Her Father
Since her father’s passing, Botha’s daughter, Carmen, has turned her Facebook page into a shrine. She has posted several photos that show her with her father. Her profile photos shows the pair, with Carmen, now 21, one standing over a dead gazelle.
Botha is survived by his wife and their five children. The family lives in the northeastern town of Tzaneen. It’s widely reported that in addition to the safari hunts, the Botha family also has a ranch.
4. Botha Had College Degrees in Psychology & Anthropology
On his official bio, Botha says that he attained the rank of sergeant in the South African army while fighting in the Angolan war of the 1980s. After leaving the service, the army paid of his college education where he got degrees in psychology and anthropology at the University of Pretoria. It was there that he met his wife who was studying Business Computing.
5. Botha’s Death Has Divided People on Social Media
The reaction to Botha’s death has divided social media. One friend, Daleen Van Dyk, wrote on Botha’s page, “RIP Theunis Botha. Our heartfelt condolences to Carike and family. He was a great man! So sad!” While another, Simon Sparks, said:
A legend has fallen but will never be forgotten… It’s with a sad heart that we say goodbye to you Oom Theunis Botha. Our deepest condolences to the family. May God be with you all in this difficult time… R.I.P.”
While others have not been so sympathetic: