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Killing of 'iconic', 50-year-old elephant in Namibia sparks outcry

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Killing of 'iconic', 50-year-old elephant in Namibia sparks outcry
Copyright  Courtesy of Alice Ryan via Reuters
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A 50-year-old elephant was killed last week in Namibia.

The alpha bull, fondly known as "Voortrekker" (Pioneer) was part of a rare desert-adapted herd of elephants.

The government granted a permit to a hunter to kill the animal after farmers complained about the elephants destroying their properties.

“It’s unfortunate that the elephant was put down but we were left with no other alternative after this specific animal continued to cause damage to properties in the area,” Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) spokesman Romeo Muyunda told Reuters on Tuesday.

"This bull was declared a problem-causing animal, to be destroyed through trophy hunting to generate funds for the affected communities to recuperate their losses they suffered," the Ministry wrote on their Facebook page.

The statement is in line with the Ministry's policy on "human-wildlife conflict management", which involves authorising a trophy hunter to kill a problem animal under certain circumstances.

The elephant's death caused an uproar in southern African countries and conservation groups decried the government's action.

The Ugab Concerned Conservancies said that the desert elephants do not cross into communities in the Omatjete area.

Many conservationists wrote that the elephant was "iconic".

There are just over 400,000 elephants left in Africa, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. The nonprofit group estimates that about 8% of the population is poached yearly.

African elephants are marked as "vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of threatened species.