On Monday, we reported on the criticism facing Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump after photos of the brothers' 2010 hunt circulated around the web.
In the story, we cited a report from The Associated Press, which reported that Zimbabwe officials were investigating supposed wrongdoings in the hunt, which ranged from using dogs to hunt leopards (legal sometimes, illegal others) to mishandling of paperwork and distribution of game meat to local villages.
It seems, however, that those reports were false, and that comes straight from the Zimbabwe government.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. emailed Petersen's Hunting online editor Ben O'Brien with an attached letter from the director-general of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Vitallis Chadenga. In the letter, Chadenga chastises various anti-hunting groups for their efforts to smear the Trumps, and calls into question the validity of claims that the hunt was fenced or canned hunt. The letter reads as follows:
As Director General of The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority I would like to officially respond to the baseless allegations that Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump hunted illegally during their visit to Zimbabwe. First and foremost, there is no "Official Investigation" into the Trump's activities here as from day one all the requisite documentation was properly handled and the appropriate licenses were obtained which resulted in the issuance of the export paperwork. The only investigation which should occur is that of the "anti-hunting" organizations who are peddling untruths falsely represented as facts.
The Trumps booked a hunt through a South African firm that worked with a locally owned and registered outfitter who handled all the required hunting permits and hired the registered Zimbabwe Professional Hunters. In addition, as required by law, the Trump hunt took place under the supervision of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Game Rangers who accompany hunters daily making sure that all rules and regulations are followed. The Trump's hunt was no different from that of thousands of other hunters who come to Zimbabwe annually from around the world to pursue game.
Any allegations to the contrary, are simply false and being perpetrated by anti-hunting groups looking to create a salacious story to further their cause at the expense of the hunting industry.
Matetsi Unit 1 where the hunt in question took place is in excess of 40,000 hectares, thus approximately 100,000 acres of unfenced and open wilderness with the rest of the Matetsi Controlled Hunting Area, so the notion that this was a canned or behind a fence hunt is also absurd. The Matetsi complex is a highly regulated area where strict quotas for game are made every year so as to maintain optimal conditions for all game to survive and thrive.
Hunting, and the fees derived thereof, are a vital part of our conservation efforts to preserve the natural beauty of Zimbabwe's wilderness as well as a vital part of our nation's economy. The fees are used to maintain local Fauna and Flora, fund anti-poaching campaigns, and pay the salaries of park rangers who manage the area. Fees from hunters make up a very significant portion of our budgets and without these fees many of these areas would not be able to maintain their natural state.
We are seriously concerned by the actions intended to destroy the reputation of the hunters and outfitters who lawfully come to Zimbabwe and abide by our game laws and regulations. We expect that this issue and the false accusations against the Trumps are laid to rest and we sincerely hope to welcome them back to enjoy Zimbabwe's natural heritage in the near future.
Keep checking Petersen's Hunting for more updates on this story as they come in.