Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 92nd birthday with a generous donation from a local farmer: elephant meat. The soirée was attended by 20,000 guests — about a fourth of Tanzania’s entire elephant population. The Los Angeles Times reports that schoolteachers (who were presumably uninvited) were forced to donate money for the extravaganza, which cost about $1 million.
At The Awl, Raynor Ganan calculates that the meat of a single grown elephant can feed more than 200 people for a month. Elephants are usually consumed in the style of a stew or biltong, a thicker form of jerky; it was barbecued for this weekend’s celebration. In case you are curious, people have reported the taste of elephant meat to be tough and gamey. In 1864, an explorer named Dr. David Livingstone ate elephant foot, which he describes as “whitish mass, slightly gelatinous, and sweet, like marrow.”
Elephants are most often poached not for their meat but for their ivory tusks, which are sold to traders in Southeast Asia. In Thailand and China, ivory is prized as jewelry and believed to have medicinal qualities. While there are local efforts in these countries to stop this trade, the practice continues to wipe out a devastating number of elephants — 100,000 in the past three years alone, National Geographic reports.