it was my understanding ‘hunters’ typically killed animals that would otherwise be killed by the rangers themselves. If there are two elephant bulls vying for the same cows. Or there is an old bull who is no longer effectively mating and holding up the birth rate of the herd. Etc etc.

@cammy That’s what I had been led to believe, yet in that footage it was a healthy young bull elephant he shot, so the Ranger with him screwed up in choosing the “wrong” sort of elephant (he admitted that afterwards), and by not immediately killing the injured elephant when his client failed to kill it with his first shot.

When the American “clients” were laughing a playing around with trying to shoot crocs in the pond at Mabula, I found their behaviour infantile and sickening. I’ve been to Mabula on game watching safaris, where the only shooting I did was with camera. It’s a beautiful private game reserve, and I had no idea that they were now geared up for trophy hunters. If that’s how trophy hunters behave, I shall not go there again.

You are right that old animals have to be culled, particularly elephants, because although they grow several sets of teeth in their lifetime, eventually all of them will grind down their teeth due to their getting soil and grit into the grass they eat. It’s a natural process but in the wild old elephants die a long lingering death through starvation, so culling old elephants is the kindest option. The same goes for old big cats who can no longer hunt, and eventually starve. As you say, this culling is normally done by highly trained Rangers, but the trend now is to sell the right to kill them to trophy hunters who will pay huge sums to do this. The argument is, if they are going to be culled anyway why not sell the right to trophy hunters which generates big income? The money so generated is meant to be ploughed back into conservation and to pay for anti poaching patrols where the poachers can earn big money themselves from illegal trade in ivory and rhino horns.

As the film showed the carnage done by poachers is much worse than that done by trophy hunters.

It’s easy to get moralistic, but as the documentary showed, the answers aren’t as simple and straightforward as it appears at first sight.