A professional big game hunter is dead after he was crushed by an elephant that was mortally wounded by a gunshot.
The elephant was shot by a member of the hunting group as it stormed them and then fell on top of Theunis Botha, 51, while he was leading a hunt in Gwai, Zimbabwe.
The South African specialised in big game safaris and often took wealthy foreigners on hunts for lions , leopards and other animals after founding his own company in the 1980s.
Heartbroken friends described the married father-of-five as a "legend", while opponents of big game hunting offered little sympathy following his passing.
Botha, from the South African town of Tzaneen, and the rest of the group were out for a walk on Friday afternoon when they came across a breeding herd of elephants.
A source said Botha shot at three elephant cows as they stormed the hunters.
A fourth cow stormed from the side, lifted Botha with her trunk and was fatally shot by another hunter.
The elephant then collapsed onto Botha, crushing him to death.
Friends paid tribute to Botha on Facebook , where one wrote: "RIP Theunis Botha. Our heartfelt condolences to Carike and family. He was a great man! So sad!"
Another friend added: "A legend has fallen but will never be forgotten… It’s with a sad heart that we say goodbye to you Oom Theunis Botha. Our deepest condolences to the family. May God be with you all in this difficult time."
Critics of big game hunting responded with little sympathy.
One person wrote: "You should be crying for the innocent elephant that was senselessly murdered not this idiot hunter who deserved what he got."
Botha’s friend, Scott van Zyl, 44, was killed by crocodiles during a hunt in Zimbabwe last month, Netwerk24 reported.
Both’as company, called Theunis Botha Big Game Safaris and Hounds, as he was known to hunt with dogs, is a family operation run with his wife Carike.
In 1878 his ancestors moved into a wild and rugged region of South Africa, becoming cattle ranchers and hunters, the firm’s website states.
It adds: "In the year of ’66 Theunis became the latest addition to his family, and was privileged to be raised in the ways of the bush and its people."
He served in the South African infantry during the Angolan War and left the Army after reaching the rank of sergeant.