Zimbabwe is planning to sell rights to shoot about 500 elephants in a bid to raise funds for conservation at a time tourism continues to suffer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have a bad need for more money," Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) Tinashe Farawo was quoted by ITV News as saying.
"We are not supported by [the] central government so we need this tourism."
Elephants will be priced at around $10,000 each and they are expecting more to be spent on hiring vehicles, professional trackers and accommodation.
"Hunting is as old as humanity," said Farawo. "This happens every year in the dry season."
However, the country's environmental advocacy group the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) has criticised the move to shoot the elephants.
"We believe that animals do not need to pay with their lives to ensure that their species are protected," the group said.
"It is the responsibility of the government to avail funds for the protection and conservation of biodiversity."
CNRG said although trophy hunters, armed with guns, are well trained and also enjoy extra protection from rangers and evacuate after their temporary hunting escapades, it was the locals who bear the brunt of "wildlife vengeance".
The government of Botswana recently issued permits to kill 287 elephants by the end of the hunting season in September 2021.