HARARE – Zimbabwe authorities have okayed the sale of licenses for elephant hunting as the global pandemic bites the economy, ENN reports.

This development comes at a time the Zimbabwe tourism sector has lost an estimated $1 billion in potential tourism revenue over the last 12 months due to Covid-19 restrictions, according to Zimbabwe Tourism Authority estimates.

A price tag of between US$10,000 and US$70,000 has been tagged per elephant, depending on size, as the country moves to sell hunting rights for at least 500 of this endangered species. This Jumbo sale is meant to raise operational funds for wildlife management, a Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) company spokesperson was quoted saying.

With an elephant population of 100,000, Zimbabwe has one of the largest elephant herds in the world.The trophy hunting exercise is being pushed for by Zimparks, but wildlife conservation groups believe that by tendering for the killing of its elephants by rich foreigners, Zimbabwe is not solving it’s wildlife conservation puzzle sustainably. Instead, it is setting a bad precedence as the selling of hunting rights for sport will expose the endangered wildlife to abuse, especially considering the southern african country’s precedence on corruption.

In July 2015, Cecil the lion was killed by Walter Palmer outside the boundaries of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. This development sparked an international outcry and criticism of trophy hunting for the heads, skins, or other body parts of wild animals. The move by Zimbabwe to allow for trophy hunting of elephants comes against the odds of this global view.

At present, eight African countries have been involved in trophy hunting of wild animals by rich foreigners, including Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique and Namibia.