Exposing the Big Game

It’s easy to spot Columbus. He’s not only the biggest and strongest gnu among the dozens grazing on a South African plain, he also sports a golden-hued coat, a stunning contrast to the gray and black gnus around him.

Finding Columbus in the wild would be a stroke of amazing luck. More than 99.9 percent of all wild gnus, also called wildebeest, from the Afrikaans for “wild beast,” have dark coats. But this three-year-old golden bull and his many offspring are not an accident. They have been bred specially for their unusual coloring, which is coveted by big game hunters.

These flaxen creatures are the latest craze in South Africa’s $1 billion ultra-high-end big-game hunting industry. Well-heeled marksmen pay nearly $50,000 to take a shot at a golden gnu — more than 100 times what they…

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