As his party approached the sorghum field that night, Parsons says, “There was no moon, no stars; it was pitch dark. I couldn’t see three feet in front of me. We were moving though the field, and all we could do was use our hearing to find them. That took an hour and a half.”
When the herd realised there were humans in the field about 15 yards (13 metres) away from them, Parsons says they turned to attack the group. At that point, the party turned on the lights they had available. “We picked out the largest bull,” Parsons says, “and we shot and killed it. The rest of the herd left and never came back.” The farmer was able to harvest what remained of his crop.
The killed elephant was then used by the villagers for food, a practice that the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has green-lit during times of economic hardship and hunger.
Parsons v PETA
Animal rights activists have taken a harsh tone toward Parsons’ actions, saying there are many other ways the elephants could have been removed from the fields. Parsons claims many of these methods have already been tried and have failed. “If you want to go and try to chase an elephant out of a field with a beehive, I’ll video it,” he says.
Parsons claims his critics are out of touch with the reality of life in Zimbabwe. “These people look at this from the context of being Americans,” he says. “We’re well-fed and isolated from the process of growing and butchering meat. We see this, and we’re horrified. Their hearts are in the right place, but they just don’t understand what’s going on over there.”
Parsons sees himself as something of a savior. “If you had the choice to take a few elephants or to let people starve,” he says, “what choice would you make?”
Many viewers of the video have accused the CEO of gloating about his kill. But Parsons claims his attitude was far from arrogant.
“When you see me smiling in that picture, I’m smiling because I’m relieved no one was hurt, that the crop was saved, and that these people were going to be fed — the type of smile when you get a good report card or achieve a goal,” he says.
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