When GoDaddy CEO, Bob Parsons, posted a video online of himself shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe, he unleashed a stampede of criticism. The hunt, which took place in March, resulted in the killing of a problem bull elephant found raiding farmers’ crops. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) discovered the video, plastered it all over the web, and dropped their account with GoDaddy—a web hosting service—urging others to follow suit. NameCheap, a rival web company, persuaded more than 20,000 GoDaddy customers to switch their accounts by pledging to donate a portion of its revenue to the nonprofit Save the Elephants.
Such emotional activism on behalf of elephants is understandable. But whether PETA’s activism goes beyond rhetoric to achieve results—like more elephant habitat and more elephants—is another matter. Unfortunately, environmental groups such as PETA are too often long on rhetoric and short on results.
Like many environmental groups, PETA is all about the "anti." In this case, it is anti-hunting. Its supporters rally against causes with easily identifiable "bad guys" such as corporations and hunters like Bob Parsons. While such good-versus-evil narratives are useful for garnering financial support, they ignore the complexity of human-wildlife conflicts in Africa and the role of property rights and local management in resource conservation.