The Real Elephant in the Room

Realtree Outdoor News

The Real Elephant in the Room

Posted 2012-04-20T10:04:00Z  by  Barbara Baird

The Real Elephant in the Room

Poor King Juan Carlos, the 74-year-old monarch of Spain, who recently broke his hip while on an elephant hunt in Botswana. He has angered the public for two reasons: 1) the economy is in deep trouble in Spain and Spaniards want to know who paid for his trip and 2) the antis appear to have the upper hand. In fact, King Carlos is the honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - a position he has held since 1968. Members of the WWF are considering whether to eject him from this position.

I checked on the WWF's position on hunting, based on "What They Say About Hunting - Position Statements on Hunting of Major Conservation or Preservation Organizations," from the National Shooting Sports Foundation: The mission of WWF is to protect rare and endangered species and habitats all over the world. We therefore explicitly object to any activity that threatens the survival of any species or the conservation of wilderness areas that support these species. But, WWF does not, for example, oppose hunting by indigenous peoples to meet their basic needs for food and shelter. We do insist that hunting and trapping be regulated so that the survival of any species not be threatened, and we vigorously oppose any hunting or trapping activities that violate international, national or state law, which includes illegal poaching."

So, what's the problem with hunting elephants in Botswana? According to a Reuters' press release on the topic: With a human population of 2 million, Botswana has the highest elephant-to-people ratio in Africa, at one for every 14 people.

Conservationists and hunters say their growing numbers are contributing to fewer forests and growing deserts.

"'They have to cull them. That is the purpose of allowing people to hunt elephants,'" said Mike Cameron, a veteran South African professional hunting guide who has led many safaris to Botswana.

They have to cull them

Just don't send the king of an impoverished country to do the job.

By the way, a typical two-week elephant hunt costs $60,000-$70,000. That excludes air fair, tips, etc. In a country where half of the young people cannot find work, that's the real problem. But the antis are jumping on this train and hoping it leads them to no-hunting-elephants land sooner than they expected.

If you were king, what would you do? This could be a teachable moment.

(By the way, the king has already apologized.)