A Croatian trophy hunter has been shot dead in a freak accident while taking part in a expedition in South Africa.
Pero Jelinic, 75, had already shot one lion dead and had another in his sights when he was struck by a stray bullet and killed on a remote farm on Saturday.
Friend Slavko Pernar said Jelinic was a passionate hunter who had gone to South Africa to bag lion trophy after shooting ‘everything that could be hunted in Europe’.
Pero Jelinic, 75, was killed by a stray bullet in South Africa on Saturday as he hunted lions. Police say it is not clear who fired the fatal shot
It is not clear who fired the shot that killed Jelinic, police said.
He had travelled to the country’s North West province with two friends to hunt cats ‘to complete his extensive trophy collection’ when he was struck by the bullet.
According to a close friend and passionate fellow hunter, the hotelier from the island of Pag, coveted the head of a lion ‘to crown his rich hunting career’ and had leased his hotel to devote his time to fulfill his dream.
The property where Saturday’s killing took place keeps lions in captivity purely to be hunted as trophies in a ‘sport’ that has been widely condemned.
‘Pero was a passionate hunter of big and small game, and in search of that he travelled most of the world,’ the dead man’s friend Slavko Pernar told Croatia’s Jutarnji List newspaper.
‘For the past year he had leased his hotel to dedicated himself to the things he planned to accomplish and enjoyed a deserved retirement.
‘He, unfortunately, received the ugliest end – he died in South Africa doing what he loved. His office, a hunting hall, was full of trophies, deer and bear specimens and everything that could be hunted in Croatia and Europe.’
The ill-fated hunt was based at Leeubosch Lodge, a four-hour drive from Johannesburg and just 40 miles from the border with Botswana.
The owner, Dr Gideon Engelbrecht, told News24 that he was not at the farm when the incident occurred.
‘I was at my surgery when I received the call. I arranged for a helicopter to take the man to hospital, but that’s all I am going to give you at this stage, because the case is still under investigation,’ he said.
Slavko Pernar, Jelinic’s friend, said he had moved to South Africa in order to kill lions and complete his trophy collection after shooting ‘everything that could be hunted in Europe’
South Africa plays host to a lucrative and legal, but highly controversial, captive-bred lion hunting industry, commonly known as ‘canned’ lion-hunting.
The industry has came under fire in recent years from a host of reputable international and African hunting organisations.
Such hunts involve animals kept in a confined, fenced-in area, and no chance of escape, and giving the hunter the best possible chance to kill his prey.
In November 2015, the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) voted to disassociate itself from the practice of canned lion hunting in South Africa and banned all members from taking part in such ‘vanity hunting’ expeditions.
Last year, the ruling was reversed, prompting an outcry from animal rights groups around the world.
Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone told MailOnline that police ‘do not suspect any foul play’ was involved in the shooting on Saturday.
‘The injured man was air-lifted to the nearby hospital by helicopter, but doctors were unable to save the man’s life.
‘A case of culpable homicide has been opened, and police are also investigating charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition,’ Brigadier Mokgwabone added.
‘At this stage it is not clear who fired the fatal shot that killed Mr Jelinic. Our investigations are ongoing.’