Elephant (file photo).
Hunters in Zimbabwe have shot dead a bull elephant collared by scientists for research purposes, the second such killing in a month, a conservation group says.
The elephant was killed on April 12 by a hunter and his client in a hunting area just outside Gonarezhou National Park, where another collared bull elephant was shot in similar circumstances on March 7.
A national parks ranger who was monitoring the hunt has been suspended and the elephant's ivory confiscated pending the outcome of an investigation, said the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust (GCT).
It called the latest killing "a significant blow to conservation efforts".
It is not illegal for a hunter to kill an animal with a collar, though it is deemed unethical.
"The (safari) operator was well aware of the ethical stance and, as a result of previous similar incidences, was aware of the potential for collared individuals to roam into hunting areas outside the park," the trust said in a statement.
11 000 elephants
Zimbabwe's main hunters' association hasn't yet commented on the incident. Zimbabwe's hunting industry was thrust into the spotlight in 2015 after a US hunter shot dead Cecil, a collared lion popular with tourists, after the animal strayed outside Hwange National Park.
GCT says it has collared more than 20 large bull elephants to monitor their movements and gather data for conservation purposes. Gonarezhou is said to have around 11 000 elephants, one of the highest concentrations in Africa.