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  1. ITV Report

Hunter condemned for shooting huge African elephant

A European hunter has been condemned by conservationists for shooting dead an elephant believed to be one of the largest ever seen in Zimbabwe as a trophy kill.

Video report by ITV News Africa correspondent John Ray:

Images of the rifle-toting hunter celebrating the animal's death with another man were posted on a Facebook page, sparking furious online responses.

The image's caption gave a hint of the scale of the giant animal, with the elephant's tusks alone weighing more than eight stone (122lbs).

The accompanying message read: "122lbs by 120 Zimbabwean tusker hunted recently with legal permit that was acquired before the hunt - benefiting wild species and lands as a whole."

"Monumental trophy bull for sure," it said, adding, "unlikely a bigger one".

The hunter appeared to defend the elephant's killing as inevitable, writing: "(the animal) will get shot any time soon with all the illegal Asian ivory gang poaching going on simultaneously."

The killing comes a few months after American dentist Walter Palmer sparked worldwide outrage by shooting Zimbabwe attraction Cecil the Lion with a bow and arrow.

The celebration of the trophy kill has sparked a furious online response. Credit: Facebook

The Daily Telegraph reported the elephant hunter was a German national who paid the equivalent of £39,000 for a permit to shoot the elephant during a private hunt at Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou National Park on October 8.

The newspaper said the hunting community believe it may be the largest elephant killed in Africa for nearly three decades.

Local conservationist Anthony Kaschula witnessed the hunt and, as quoted by the Telegraph, led condemnation of the killing.

We have no control over poaching but we do have control over hunting policy that should acknowledge that animals such as this one are of far more value alive (to both hunters and non-hunters) than dead.

Individual elephants such as these should be accorded their true value as a National Heritage and should be off limits to hunting. In this case, we have collectively failed to ensure that legislation is not in place to help safeguard such magnificent animals.

– Anthony Kaschula

The identity of the German hunter is reportedly being protected by the hunt organisers.

Cecil the Lion's killer Mr Palmer received widespread condemnation upon his return to America after his infamous hunting trip to Zimbabwe in July.

He defended his actions as legal, saying he hired guides and had a permit to hunt.

The 55-year-old later admitted regret for the shooting, saying: "If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study obviously I wouldn't have taken it."