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VIdeo of elephant shooting turns into donations

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A video of an American CEO shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe that villagers then sliced apart for meat has raised thousands of dollars for a conservation group after a rival Internet firm used the graphic footage to steal away customers.

The founder of Save The Elephants, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, said he was surprised but appreciative by the more than $20,000 in funds raised by Internet domain registration site Namecheap.

Namecheap offered to donate $1 for every customer who opened a new account with them after the chief executive of their competitor GoDaddy.com appeared in the video of an elephant being killed last month.

“It’s a very sad, tragic thing when elephants have to be shot. I find the glorification totally out of place,” Douglas-Hamilton said Wednesday.

In the video, GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons is seen standing in a field of green sorghum whose stalks have been trampled, and portrays the shooting as a solution to crop-killing elephants.

“Properly dealing with problem elephants saves crops, feeds villages and helps maintain elephant herds,” a graphic on the video says. “Damage is extensive. Unless elephant(s) are stopped entire crop may be lost. When crops are lost subsistence farmers risk starvation.”

A team of hunters tracks down three elephants at night and killed one.

The following morning swarms of what the video calls “hungry villagers” — some in GoDaddy.com hats — hack at the elephant for meat. It says some have walked for 20 miles.

But Douglas-Hamilton said the issue is more complicated than the video portrays. He did not believe the villagers were starving, though he said meat is valued and worth a long walk.

“You can’t control crop raiding in Africa through foreign hunters. It’s not going to work,” he said. “It’s a perk for people who enjoy killing elephants to justify themselves.”

Namecheap, a domain name registration company that competes with GoDaddy, said it was disturbed by the video and decided to “throw our support behind our elephant friends” by offering website name transfers for $4.99, with $1 going to the elephants. The company announced Tuesday on Twitter that it raised $20,433.

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