The CEO of GoDaddy is under fire for video footage that shows him killing an elephant in Zimbabwe, but Bob Parsons says the hunts are necessary to help feed local villagers and prevent the animals from destroying crops.
Footage of Parsons’s elephant hunt circulated on the Web this week, drawing fire from animal rights groups like People for the Ethnical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Change.org.
“PETA is closing its account with Go Daddy and urges everyone to follow suit,” the group said in a note on its Web site, which also encouraged others to write to Parsons and express their disappointment.
Change.org also started up an online petition. “Tell Parsons his business acumen could be put to good use finding ways to spare the farmers’ crops that would also spare the elephants’ lives,” the group said.
Parsons responded to the controversy in the comments section of a recent video on his Web site.
“I spend a few weeks in Zimbabwe each year helping the farmers deal with problem elephants,” he wrote. “The people there have very little, many die each year from starvation and one of the problems they have is the elephants, of which there are thousands and thousands, that trash many of their fields destroying the crops.”
Tribal authorities have requested that Parsons and other like him patrol the fields before and during the harvest. “The farmers try to run the elephants away by cracking whips, beating drums and lighting fires. All of this is ignored by the elephants,” he wrote.
Parsons said he typically only kills one elephant from a pack, and focuses on old bulls, which “has no effect on the herd” because old bulls often stray and younger ones step up and breed in their place.
“These people have literally nothing and when an elephant is killed it’s a big event for them, they are going to be able to eat some protein,” Parsons wrote.
Killing an elephant in this part of Zimbabwe for food is “no different than you or I eating beef, [though] I understand that with the endless choices of food we have at our supermarkets and how well fed all of us are, this situation is difficult to get your head around,” he said.
PETA said Parsons’s explanation was “lame” and claimed that “there are ample effective and nonlethal methods to deter elephants from crops, including using chili-infused string and beehives on poles to create low-cost ‘fences.'”
The organization suggested that Parsons “use his wealth to fund humane solutions to human/elephant conflicts.”
Parsons said those suggestions are “ridiculous.”
“I wonder how many of those people from change.org will be on their way to Zimbabwe with bee hives and chili pepper covered string during the next harvest. My guess is none,” he wrote. “I also would guess that none have ever been there. Should the folks at change.org go to Zimbabwe with their bee hives and chili pepper lines, my guess is they’ll return with a tusk in their ass and some very pissed off villages and farmers in their wake.”
As for financial contributions, Parsons said that “no amount of money I could contribute would make much of a difference.”