Former footballer pictured with elephant he shot dead on hunting trip

AOL Travel

Former Marseille and Lyon footballer Pascal Olmeta has angered animal rights groups by posing with an elephant he shot dead on a guided hunting trip in Zimbabwe.

A disturbing video showed the sportsman tracking the animal before shooting it with a rifle, causing it to fall to the ground and cry in pain.

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Olmeta, 55, then fires a bullet through the animal's head.

He is seen laughing and being congratulated by his guide.

Animal charity Humane Society International said it was "absolutely sickening".

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Masha Kalinina, the charity's International Trade Policy Specialist, said: "As the world faces an elephant poaching crisis, with around 100 elephants poached every day, it is absolutely sickening to see anyone celebrating taking even one innocent life of this magnificent species.

"And for what? All in the name of fun?"

Kalinina added: "As a sportsman, Olmeta has let himself down because there was nothing sportsmanlike about subjecting this wild elephant to a frightening and agonizing death."

Olmeta defended the video and said he shot the animal because of "overpopulation".

In a statement to the Sun, he said: "The problem of overpopulation of elephants in Zimbabwe is a real issue for the country.

"Elephants cause irreparable damage to the houses. They are also the cause of many deaths among the local populations."