Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Rich-lister's shocking animal slaughter

Mark Gunton with an elephant he shot while on a hunting trip to Africa, believed to have been in 2011.
Mark Gunton with an elephant he shot while on a hunting trip to Africa, believed to have been in 2011.

Gun in hand, Kiwi millionaire Mark Gunton stands proudly over the corpse of a fallen African elephant.

The beast's tusks are blood-spattered and its face contorted into a gruesome death mask.

Two more pictures, apparently of different elephants, show the Auckland developer and shopping mall magnate in further post-slaughter poses.

Another shows Gunton crouching over the body of a Nile crocodile.

Pools of blood lie around its fearsome jaws, which are held open by a length of wood.

Gunton and slain crocodile.
Gunton and slain crocodile.

The Gunton hunting photos have provoked shock and outrage from wildlife groups.

They come after US TV presenter Melissa Bachman posted a picture of herself with a dead lion and boasted of stalking and killing it.

A petition has been started calling for her to be banned from returning to South Africa.

And last year, King Juan Carlos of Spain was removed as honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund after it emerged he had been hunting elephants in Botswana.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare, which campaigns for an end to trophy-hunting, said it was wrong for hunters like Gunton to glorify animals' suffering.

Spokeswoman Rebekka Thompson -Jones said: "The decision to kill an animal as social and intelligent as an elephant, just for fun is terrible enough.

"The obvious glorification makes it even more disturbing."

Gunton is chairman of the New Zealand Retail Property Group, and has developed shopping malls at Highbury on the North Shore and Tauriko in Tauranga, and the $1 billion Westgate town development at Massey.

He is also behind a controversial 16-storey property development in Milford. The Auckland Council has turned down a consent application for it, and it is going through the Environment Court.

Gunton was at his son's wedding in the South Island, and did not respond to repeated calls to his business, mobile phone and email address.

His business partner, Campbell Barbour, said it was a private matter.

"What some people will tell you is the fact that animals are effectively being protected for those purposes means the survival of a number of species is assured," he said.

It is unclear when and where the pictures were taken, but they were posted on to a website in 2011 and 2012 under the account of South African big game hunter Graeme Bruce Pollock.

Gunton has spoken openly to friends about his big game hunting trips to Canada, Africa, and around New Zealand.

African elephants are the world's largest land-based mammals.

Elephant hunting is still legal in most southern Africa nations, and hunters pay up to $80,000 to hunt an elephant in Botswana.

- Herald on Sunday

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