Celebrity bowhunting and fitness influencer couple Josh and Sarah Bowmar are coming under fire (again) after posting photos and video of Josh Bowmar posing with a 16-foot 3-inch crocodile that he killed in Tanzania and says is a new pending world-record. The controversy started on Instagram but spread to the mainstream media when The Citizen, a Tanzanian news outlet, published a critical piece about the hunt. Two details of Bowmar’s hunt seem to be of primary concern: whether it was legal and whether the crocodile is actually a world record.
Crocodile hunting in Tanzania is legal and regulated by the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Crocodiles are just one big game species of many that drive ample revenue for wildlife conservation efforts in Tanzania, the Tanzania Hunting Operators Association points out in a press release.
“Tanzania wildlife Authority (TAWA) has confirmed that the Crocodile was legally hunted by the American hunter Joshua Bowmar using hunting permit MP0001792 in Lake Rukwa, in adherence to the Laws and Regulation governing Tourist hunting and outfitted by a reputable hunting company accompanied by a qualified Professional Hunter and supervision of a TAWA Wildlife Officer,” the press release reads. (Emphasis is original to the release.)
TAHOA is an industry group that represents hunting operators across the country. It was established in 1988 at the request of the Tanzanian government, the Operators and Professional Hunting Association of Africa reports. In its piece, The Citizen included a quote from a TAWA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“We have seen the video clip. We are investigating and we will give full information to the public only when everything is completed,” the official said. He also noted frustration at Tanzanians who furthered the public upheaval by continuing to distribute the Bowmars’ videos.
It’s not clear which video clip the unidentified official is referencing, although the Bowmars are notorious for posting videos of their hunts that much of the public — including many hunters — consider to be in poor taste. But the real question is often around whether they’re following the law. Their first public controversy erupted in 2016 for attaching a GoPro camera to a large spear and using it to kill a black bear, then posting that footage to their YouTube and social media channels. Under Armour ended their sponsorship deal with Sarah Bowmar and spear hunting was banned in Alberta as a result of the incident. The Bowmars were also sentenced in early 2023 on federal charges related to the Lacey Act for their involvement in a Nebraska poaching ring from 2015 to 2017.
Footage from Bowmar’s crocodile hunt has not surfaced yet. But in captions on Instagram posts with the behemoth reptile, he writes that more content from their latest safari is coming soon and that they captured footage of the hunt.
As for whether the claim of a world record is accurate, official record data for bowhunting crocodiles in Africa is difficult to track down since so few hunters actually use archery equipment to target crocodiles, according to TAHOA. The Bowmars also claimed that Sarah Bowmar killed a world-record crocodile in 2021 and then beat her previous kill with a bigger croc in September 2023. Safari Club International has no record of either Josh or Sarah setting a crocodile record, an employee in the records department tells Outdoor Life.
This story was updated on Jan. 3, 2023 at 2:23 EST to include comment from Safari Club International.