Shooting a species to save it | DW Documentary

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Shooting a species to save it | DW Documentary

Big game hunting causes outrage – but it also offers opportunities to preserve threatened species.
Big game hunters bag elephants or lions and pose with their trophies. It can cause outrage – but hunting can offer a way to preserve nature and protect threatened species. Such as the one-hundred elephants that will be resettled in Zimbabwe.

Angry online commentators agree: trophy hunting is reprehensible, immoral and absolutely unnecessary. But is it really that simple? There are hunting projects that guarantee the survival of endangered species – provided they are managed well.

Sango, a private game reserve in southeastern Zimbabwe, is owned by German businessman Wilfried Pabst. Sixty percent of Sango’s operating costs is financed through what it calls sustainable use – in other words, trophy hunting. Pabst has faced enormous hostility, but is that fair? The concept behind Sango is to allow some animals to be hunted to generate capital to support the rest. Pabst has been so successful with this model that he now has too many animals of various species for Sango or Zimbabwe to support.

The elephants in particular are a huge problem. The giant pachyderms spend around 20 hours a day eating, and destroy their own habitat. Pabst has to reduce their number to protect the habitat. He gets permission to cull 100 elephants – but he loves his animals and looks for alternatives. He finds a surprising way out.

Hundreds of kilometers further north is picturesque Rifa on the Zambezi River. Another German businessman, Ralph Koczwara, leases the land and comes up with a spectacular idea. The elephants should be relocated. A unique rescue maneuver begins. But how do you transport elephant families?

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