GoDaddy CEO's graphic elephant hunt video sends his clients flocking to competitors, and helps raise $20,000 for elephant charity
A video of an American CEO shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe, which villagers then sliced apart for meat, has raised thousands of dollars for a conservation group after a rival Internet firm used the graphic footage to steal away customers.
The founder of Save The Elephants, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, said he was surprised but appreciative by the more than $20,000 in funds raised by Internet domain registration site Namecheap.
Namecheap offered to donate $1 for every customer who opened a new account with them, after the chief executive of their competitor GoDaddy.com appeared in the video of an elephant being killed last month.
Beneficiaries: While some people are outraged by Bob Parsons' hunt, money is raised for elephants
'It's a very sad, tragic thing when elephants have to be shot. I find the glorification totally out of place,' Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save The Elephants, said yesterday.
In the video, Bob Parsons is seen standing in a field of trampled sorghum, and portrays the shooting as a solution to crop-killing elephants.
A graphic on the video reads: 'Properly dealing with problem elephants saves crops, feeds villages and helps maintain elephant herds.
'Damage is extensive. Unless elephant(s) are stopped entire crops may be lost. When crops are lost subsistence farmers risk starvation.'
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A team of hunters tracked down three elephants during the night and killed one. The following morning swarms of what the video called 'hungry villagers' — some in GoDaddy.com hats — hacked at the elephant for meat. It said some had walked for 20 miles (30 kilometers).
But Mr Douglas-Hamilton said the issue is more complicated than the video portrayed. He did not believe the villagers were starving, though he said meat was valued and worth a long walk.
Filmed: Bob Parsons smiles proudly over the corpse of the dead bull elephant
Poor taste: Villagers are seen the next day hacking into the corpse wearing the company logo
He said: 'You can't control crop raiding in Africa through foreign hunters. It's not going to work. It's a perk for people who enjoy killing elephants to justify themselves.'
Namecheap, a domain name registration company that competes with GoDaddy, said it was disturbed by the video and decided to 'throw our support behind our elephant friends' by offering website name transfers for $4.99, with $1 going to the elephants. The company announced Tuesday on Twitter that it raised $20,433.
Save The Elephants said it didn't solicit the donation but greatly appreciated the support 'as a constructive reaction' to the video.
Mr Parsons, on his website, wrote that he travelled to Zimbabwe every year to hunt problem elephants. He said it was 'one of the most beneficial and rewarding things I do'.
A previous video posted in March 2010 said that Parsons was travelling with the 'Problem Animal Control Team' and it showed villagers complaining about elephants damaging crops.
Shooting an elephant in most African countries is illegal, but such hunts can be done in countries that offer a limited number of expensive permits. Elephant numbers dropped precipitously in the 1970s and 1980s, but have recovered since then. A 2007 survey by the African Elephant Specialist Group found that Zimbabwe had 84,000 elephants.
Fatal shot: Mr Parsons is captured firing at the elephant, but the video is proving just as lethal for his business - as clients flock to his competitors
Milking It: Mr Parsons poses with villagers, while his competition cashes in on the backlash
In the 2010 video, while surveying a field of damaged crops, Mr Parsons said: 'We really need to get on the ball and find these problem elephants and get them handled.'
A spokeswoman for the GoDaddy Group said Mr Parsons was travelling and not immediately available for comment.
Conservationists pursue other solutions to human-elephant conflicts. Groups in Kenya built a tunnel under a major highway earlier this year so elephants could move between two wilderness areas without walking through villagers' crops.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals condemned Mr Parsons' most recent video, saying he had killed the elephant for enjoyment.
In a statement PETA said: 'Parsons is hiding behind the lame claim that killing elephants helps farmers in Africa whose crops are damaged by the animals.
'In fact, there are ample effective and non-lethal methods to deter elephants from crops, including using chilli-infused string and beehives on poles to create low-cost "fences".'
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
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