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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Hunter who paid $30,000 to kill elephant and $10,000 for its head to be preserved says he's the target of abuse as PETA releases video of the South Africa kill while it campaigns for state ban on trophy imports

A California trophy hunter who killed an elephant and ate a piece of it for dinner says he's being abused online after PETA released video of his hunt as it promotes a state bill seeking to ban the importation and possession of endangered African animals. 
Aaron Raby, who describes himself as a 'blue-collar' crane operator from Los Angeles, paid more than $30,000 for a South Africa hunting trip to shoot and kill the tusked elephant and paid roughly $10,000 to have its head preserved as a souvenir of his expedition.
 On Monday the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released video of Raby’s kill in a bid to pressure lawmakers to pass new legislation, Senate Bill 1175, which seeks to ban Raby and other hunters from ever getting and keeping such trophies. 
His elephant head is still being prepared by a taxidermist in South Africa.

On Monday PETA released video of Los Angeles man Aaron Raby killing an elephant in South Africa in December 2019 in a bid to pressure California lawmakers to ban hunting trophies
On Monday PETA released video of Los Angeles man Aaron Raby killing an elephant in South Africa in December 2019 in a bid to pressure California lawmakers to ban hunting trophies 
The harrowing video shows Raby (above) with guides shooting at a lone young elephant wandering in a hunting ground near Kruger National Park. The hunting ground and park aren't separated by any fencing or barrier
The harrowing video shows Raby (above) with guides shooting at a lone young elephant wandering in a hunting ground near Kruger National Park. The hunting ground and park aren't separated by any fencing or barrier
In the clip he fires at least four times with three shots directed towards the elephant's head
In the clip he fires at least four times with three shots directed towards the elephant's head
Raby reportedly ate a piece of the elephant with a side of sliced tomato and avocado for dinner after the kill. Raby pictured in the trees shooting at the elephant from a close range
Raby reportedly ate a piece of the elephant with a side of sliced tomato and avocado for dinner after the kill. Raby pictured in the trees shooting at the elephant from a close range
Raby posted his photo on Facebook after the kill writing: 'This is the reality of hunting! Conservation funded and people fed!'
Raby posted his photo on Facebook after the kill writing: 'This is the reality of hunting! Conservation funded and people fed!'
The legislation seeks to ban the importation and possession of animal parts from a list of endangered and threatened African species, including elephants, lions and rhinos. 
The bill has already passed in the state Senate and is expected to pass the Assembly on Tuesday. 
'I don’t understand why this is anybody’s business but my own,' Raby said to the Los Angeles Times. 'What I did is legal. I didn’t break a law. They’re going to place a ban because a bunch of ... crybabies that don’t like hunting.'
It’s been a long road for California which passed similar legislation in the Assembly and Senate two years ago, but the bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown who called the trophy ban 'unenforceable'.
Democratic Sen. Henry Stern is championing the new bill.
'It’s time to wake up and realize that we’re in the middle of a mass extinction event,' he said.
He says he’s confident Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign this year’s bill.
This year the Trump administration approved the import of a lion trophy from Tanzania, marking the first approval since lions began receiving protections in January 2016 as a threatened species.

Raby is a hunter who faced public criticism, even threats and harassment, after he posted himself with a lion he killed in the past. Pictured in the Kalahari desert in South Africa with a dead lion in September 2016
Raby is a hunter who faced public criticism, even threats and harassment, after he posted himself with a lion he killed in the past. Pictured in the Kalahari desert in South Africa with a dead lion in September 2016
Raby pictured in May 2019 posing with a slain Hartmann's mountain zebra in Namibia
Raby pictured in May 2019 posing with a slain Hartmann's mountain zebra in Namibia
Raby poses with a hunted Chinese water deer (above) in February 2017 during a hunting trip in the United Kingdom
Raby pictured in February 2017 during a hunting trip in the United Kingdom
Raby poses with a hunted Chinese water deer (left) and other creatures in February 2017 during a hunting trip in the United Kingdom 
Raby pictured with a massive bear in this September 2016 social media photo
Raby pictured with a massive bear in this September 2016 social media photo
Raby is a hunter who has faced public criticism, even threats and harassment, after he posted himself with a lion he killed in the past.
The video shared by PETA shows a lone young elephant walking in a hunting ground near Kruger National Park, where elephants are protected. The hunting area and park are not separated by a fence meaning animals can become vulnerable by crossing into the wrong territory. 
Raby points his gun and shoots and when he fires the elephant falls to its knees and the group of hunters move in closer.
Over the course of the video Raby shoots the elephant four more times —  with three more hitting the animal’s head and nearing the animal for close-range shots. It’s unknown how many shots it took for the elephant to die.
In the clip the elephant is seen breathing heavily and struggling to get up.   
Democratic Sen. Henry Stern is championing the new bill. 'It¿s time to wake up and realize that we¿re in the middle of a mass extinction event,' he said
Democratic Sen. Henry Stern is championing the new bill. 'It’s time to wake up and realize that we’re in the middle of a mass extinction event,' he said
The video ends with a pic of Raby posing over the slain animal.
Raby reportedly ate a piece of the elephant with a side of sliced tomato and avocado for dinner after the kill.
PETA is requesting South Africa officials investigate Raby’s hunt and the prolonged death of the elephant.
PETA argues that the kill violated the preserve's requirement that animals are provided with 'ethical and humane' treatment and that guides comply 'with the highest moral and ethical standards in recognition of a reverence for life and good sportsmanship.'
In Raby’s hunting career he has killed hundreds of animals across North America, Africa, Europe and Russia. 
On his Instagram page, which he has made private, he posted pictures of his hunting trips including shots of a dead wolverine and Raby hugging a dead leopard.
The elephant was his last conquest in the African 'Big Five' quest after he already killed a lion, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo and leopard.
But Raby argues what he’s doing isn’t wrong.
He says he’s not hunting for the kill but for the overall adventure of living outdoors, tracking an animal and immersing himself in the wild.
'We pay a lot of money to hunt these animals. If we didn’t hunt, that land would be converted into cattle ranches and there’d be poaching. They don’t want lions killing their cattle or elephants destroying their crops,' he said.
He argued that lions regularly kill agricultural and pastoral animals and elephants are known to destroy homes and crops.
'We’re not all bloodthirsty, psycho machines that people make us out to be,' he said. 
'I promise you, I can read an animal better than someone who is against hunting. They say they like animals, but they don’t know anything about them.'
A view of Kruger National Park in South Africa, one of the largest game reserves in Africa, above. It's bordered by a hunting ground that has no fencing to distinguish between the two territories
A view of Kruger National Park in South Africa, one of the largest game reserves in Africa, above. It's bordered by a hunting ground that has no fencing to distinguish between the two territories 
Raby says he'll leave California if the new legislation gets passed. 
Some hunting organizations argue that there are successful trophy-hunting conservation preserves such as in Namibia and Zimbabwe where the proceeds from international hunting trips are used to conserve wildlife habitats and employ people from the local communities.
However, Craig Packer, a biology professor and director of the University of Minnesota’s lion research center, says money for hunting expeditions don’t come close to the funds needed to conserve biodiversity and manage a habitat. A lion hunt can range from $20,000 to $70,000.
Corruption also makes it hard to trace the money and how hunts are regulated.
'Many of these hunting preserves are fly-by-night operations. Business owners swoop in, sell big takes, and leave. They aren’t in it for the long term,' he said.
Adrian Treves, a conservation biologist at the University of Wisconsin and director of the Carnivore Coexistence Laboratory, says there’s no evidence supporting the idea that hunting promotes biodiversity, habit conservation, or local employment.

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