Here's another one of those news stories that's interesting mainly for the comment thread.
May 19th a big game hunter in Zimbabwe, a 51-year-old white South African named Theunis Botha, was killed by an elephant. Mr Botha and some other hunters had come across the herd of elephants and they opened fire. The elephants charged and one of them picked up Mr Botha with its trunk. Another hunter shot the elephant, hoping it would let Mr Botha go. The elephant fell … on top of Mr Botha, crushing him to death.
My main reaction to the story was: Well, at least he died doing what he liked to do — hunting big, dangerous game animals for sport. How many people get a death certificate that reads: "Crushed by a falling elephant"?
The MailOnline comment thread, however, leaned heavily pro-elephant, anti-Botha. Sample: "Poetic justice, RIP poor elephant." Sample: "So glad he is dead, it's the elephant I'm mourning along with all of the other innocents he has murdered." Sample: "Good. I hope he died slowly with the Elephant's breath the last thing he heard." And so on.
I'll just make again the point I made during the fuss over Cecil the Lion two years ago.
These charismatic megafauna are only allowed to live because of the revenues that nations like Zimbabwe get by licensing the hunting of them. Without that, they'd swiftly be poached to extinction — especially elephants, whose ivory makes them exceptionally worth poaching.
I no more favor cruelty to animals than those commenters do. The actual choice here, though, is between the killing of a few by licensed hunters, and the killing of all by poachers.
If these commenters really care, above the level of posting callous, snarky comments on a news website, let them head out to Zimbabwe and take on the poachers. That I'd like to see.