Big game hunter and safari guide Theunis Botha died last Friday in Zimbabwe when an elephant that he has just shot by someone else in his group collapsed on top of him, the National Post reports.
Botha had been leading treks into the African interior to shoot big game for 28 years, owned private hunting ranches throughout southern Africa and was considered an expert at tracking and killing leopards and lions while using dogs.
On Friday, Botha was deep inside Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park with a safari when the group ran into a herd of breeding elephants. The nervous elephant cows stampeded and Botha fired into the charging trio, but a fourth elephant came at him from his side and lifted the hunter off the ground with its trunk. One of Botha’s clients shot the elephant, which then fell dead over Botha’s body, killing him instantly.
His remains were evacuated to a nearby hospital, where his wife, Carike Botha, is expected to arrive and identify the body.
Botha was eulogized on Facebook by friends and clients who remembered the hunter as a “world-class houndsman.” Another posted, “A legend has fallen but will never be forgotten.”
Other messengers made it clear that they did not grieve Botha or approve of his career — in vitriolic and sometimes obscene remarks.
Botha died just a few weeks after a friend of his fell victim to crocodiles in another hunting expedition in Zimbabwe. According to a BBC report, Scott Van Zyl disappeared in April and was found a week later when the dissected carcass of a crocodile revealed what was left of Van Zyl.
Botha came from the northeastern region of South Africa and his Big Game Safaris business was originally a family-owned business that he came to assume control of. Before that career, he served with the South Africa Army as an infantryman and fought in South Africa’s war with Angola in the 1970s.