A German environmental official is being urged to resign by the country's Green Party after photos of him posing over the carcass of a three-ton elephant in Botswana were leaked to the press. Udo Wedekind, head of environmental protection in the central German state of Thuringia, sent the photos, taken last year, to friends in Germany. [Warning: Disturbing images]
Wedekind was one of the last foreigners to shoot an elephant in the country -- an opportunity that costs about $37,000. Since January 1, a ban has been enforced against elephant hunting by foreigners in Botswana, which has the largest elephant population of any African country. Wedekind's hunting trip occurred the same weekend a Botswana conference on elephant shooting, which German officials (not including Wedekind) attended, according to 9News World.
Wedekind bragged about the hunt afterward, says German newspaper Thueringer Allgemeine.
"From trunk to tail the elephant was 7.24 meters long. I would estimate he weighed in at about 3 tons," Mr Wedekind wrote alongside the images. The hunt was tough, it was 37 degrees Celsius in the shade, and was really humid. There was also thick bush, making the going tough. It was really a challenge. I'm so happy that it ended with a real hunting victory."
Twitter has erupted with angry commenters and Anja Siegesmund, the leader of the Green Party -- a relatively influential party that holds 63 out of 630 seats in the German Parliament -- in Thuringia, described Mr Wedekind's actions as "hideous" and urged Reinholz "to verify if he should remain in his position."
But Wedekind likely won't face punishment, because the hunt was legal at the time. Regional government environment minister Juergen Reinholz said, "It is not of interest what civil servants do in their free time as long as they follow the law and don't break the rules."
A petition on Change.org calling for Wedekind to resign already has over 3,000 signatures.