Mario Alberto Canales Najjar, an expert big game hunter who had served as president of the board of directors of the Mexican Hunting Federation since 2018, was killed on October 7 after being charged by a buffalo weighing over a ton in the province of Entre Ríos in Argentina.
Canales Najjar, 64, was armed with a .408-caliber rifle and had managed to get within 30 meters of the animal when he took aim. However, his shot failed to bring the buffalo down and the enraged animal threw itself on the hunter and rammed him with its horns, according to the sequence of events reported by Argentinean daily UNO.
Canales Najjar had been on a hunting trip with three friends in Punta Caballos, around 124 miles north of Buenos Aires, when the incident occurred. The tour guide accompanying the group managed to drag Canales Najjar away from the animal after shooting it five times, according to reports. As the area in which the hunt was taking place has no cell reception and is inaccessible by road for ambulances, Canales Najjar was taken to hospital in a private vehicle in a state of shock and pronounced dead on arrival. An autopsy revealed he had suffered rib and sternal fractures as well as retroperitoneal hematomas.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Entre Ríos has opened an investigation into the incident and to analyze the permits held by the Punta Caballos-based company that organized the trip, specifically to check if they had the required documentation to hunt buffalo. Canales Najjar’s three companions will also be questioned to determine who hired the sport hunting company, which charges $500 a day for excursions.
Canales Najjar was a lawyer with a practice in Mexico City who also served as vice-president of the organization United for Sustainable Management of Our Biodiversity. In addition to his role at the Mexican Hunting Federation, Canales Najjar was also president of the board of directors of the Safari Club of Mexico and a member of the board of the National Wildlife Council.
Canales Najjar’s death has lent some visibility to an activity that is widely unknown to a large section of Argentinean society: the sports hunting industry. Establishments like the one contracted by the Mexican party raise wild animals such as deer, antelope, buffalos and mouflon, among others, as prey for their clients. In August 2019, American tourist Boyce Cooper Magli, 76, died near Gualeguay in Entre Ríos province after paying for a package that included transportation to the hunting estate, food and lodging, as well as weapons an ammunition.