RandGold CEO resigns from conservation group after trophy hunting scandal

RandGold Resources CEO Mark Bristow has resigned from the conservation council of a big cat protection organisation, Panthera following UK reports picturing him on hunting trips.

Last week, The Daily Mail published controversial images of Bristow posing next to dead elephants, antelope, gazelle, a hippo, lion, buffalo, zebra, and a leopard. 

Panthera chairperson Thomas Kaplan said that he had accepted Bristow’s resignation with "deep gratitude for the various contributions" he had made to conservation. Panthera chairperson Thomas Kaplan said that he had accepted Bristow’s resignation with deep gratitude for the various contributions he had made to conservation

"The way he put it to me both verbally and in writing was as follows: 'As a man who believes in the importance of wildlife conservation, and would never wish to be in any way a burden to that all-important mission that I share, I have stepped down from Panthera’s Conservation Council,'" Kaplan said in a statement.

Kaplan admitted that he had been aware the Bristow was a hunter when he initially invited him to join the council.

"I wanted to create a ‘big tent’ for our efforts, with multiple and varied voices that could add new dimensions and further reach to our mission," Kaplan explained.

"The Council therefore was built with the explicit intention to seek diversity of views as well as commitment."

While Panthera is cognizant of the supposed benefits of hunting, Kaplan made it clear that it does not support trophy hunting.

"Most of us find the idea of hunting cats for sport or entertainment difficult even to comprehend."

South African-born Bristow has been the CEO of RandGold since 1995 and currently lives in London with his family.

(By Christina Pitt)