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A Famous Big-Game Hunter Died After An Elephant Fell On Him

Theunis Botha, a renowned hunter, died after a wounded elephant fell on top of him during a hunt in Zimbabwe last week.

Posted on May 22, 2017, at 8:32 p.m. ET

Theunis Botha Facebook /Theunis Botha Big Game Safaris / Via

A famous South African big-game hunter has died after being crushed by an elephant that had been shot during a hunt in Zimbabwe.

Theunis Botha, 51, was leading an afternoon hunt at Good Luck Farm, near Hwange National Park, Friday when the group stumbled upon a herd of elephants, according to South African media reports.

The encounter spooked the animals, and several elephants charged the hunters. Caught by surprise, Botha opened fire, but one of the elephants got close enough to lift him with her trunk, Netwerk24 reported. Another hunter then shot the elephant, causing her to collapse on Botha.

Simukai Nyasha, spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, told the Associated Press that Botha was on a 10-day licensed hunt at the park, the largest nature reserve in Zimbabwe. It is also the same park where Walter Palmer, an American dentist, shot and killed Cecil the lion in 2015.

Hwange National Park / Via Facebook: Hwange-National-Park

A highly regarded professional hunter, Botha ran a safari company with his wife that specialized in using hounds to hunt leopards and lions. The website for the company, Theunis Botha Big Game Safaris, is filled with photos and YouTube videos of leopard, lion, buffalo, and elephant hunts.

Theunis Botha Big Game Safaris / Via

Many in the hunting community mourned his death.

"Sad News. A friend & professional hunter, Theunis En Carike Botha, passed away in Zimbabwe this week as a result of a hunting accident," Steve Scott, host of Safari Hunter's Journal and Smith & Wesson's Outdoor Guide, wrote on Facebook.

"A great & ethical person and very professional hunter," Tristan Gibbons posted. "Theunis has done more for game/nature conservation than all the thousands of self righteous fake animal lovers..."

But Botha's death also sparked a wave of negative reactions. The response prompted Botha's friend and fellow hunter and booking agent, CJ Prinsloo, to remove a post praising Botha from his company's Facebook page. But people simply migrated their opinions about Botha's death to an older post on the page.

Facebook / Via Facebook: africabighunt

Botha is survived by his wife, Carike, and their five children. His daughter, Carmen Botha, updated her Facebook Sunday with photos of her and her father.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.