Just weeks after the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) blew the whistle on the slaughter of half the elephants in Cameroon’s Bouba N’Djida reserve, Juan Carlos, the king of Spain, has apologized for going elephant hunting in Botswana.
The Spanish people might never have learned of his expedition had he not fallen. When he had to be airlifted home to have his broken hip repaired, the story leaked. The king’s embarrassment was unrelated to hunting elephants, a sport he has enjoyed before. Instead, he was trying to stave off criticism for squandering thousands of dollars at a time when the country’s unemployment is at 24% and its economy in tatters. (Estimates on the cost of the trip vary widely, from $24,500 to $65,000.)
The incident angered Spain’s animal rights community. It also embarrassed the WWF, which has has been working for 40 years to conserve forest and savanna elephant populations. News that the Honorary President of the Spanish branch has been out shooting them will do little for fundraising efforts.
According to a National Public Radio report, “The Royal Palace confirmed that this is the first time a Spanish king has ever sad he’s sorry—at least publicly—for anything.” As for being sorry for going on an elephant hunt, the king of a country in which the Ministry of Culture declares bullfighting an art form is unlikely to extend his apology that far.
The king’s hunt comes at a time when elephant poaching is on the rise, in spite of a 23-year ban on the sale of ivory. As long as people are willing to buy bling made with illegal ivory, the poaching will continue. The International Fund for Animal Welfare is asking everyone to sign the petition below, urging the European Union to take immediate action to stop the poaching and protect the world’s elephants.
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