Not fit for a king!

The recent news of the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, having hunted an elephant in Botswana’s Okavango Delta region, is disturbing. 

It is disturbing, not only because he killed an elephant for fun but because of the criticism he has received back home has centered on him having gone on an expensive hunting safari when his country continues to face economic turmoil. 

What about the fact that hunting an elephant poses a serious ethical dilemma and that, when it involves people of such high stature, it sends totally the wrong message where the protection of wildlife is concerned? 

I must say, I am getting really tired of this argument that trophy hunting greatly benefits conservation and local communities.

It is simply not true.

If you unpack the economics of the hunting industry in southern Africa, you will learn, and very quickly at that, that there are very few who derive benefit from the existence of the industry--private landowners, yes; local communities, no; conservation, no (although it depends on your definition thereof--if your conservation world view is informed by the $, then perhaps)...

And then, what is it about having to kill an elephant, a lion, a hyena or even a porcupine (I kid you not) for fun?  I am not sure, largely because I have never understood the psychology involved, but what comes to mind are the principles enshrined in dominionism, utilitarianism, egoism and ignorance--questionable ethical reference points at best.

I have to wonder what went through the king’s mind when he first saw an elephant in the wild--could it really be that he was drawn to one day shoot it, or is it just a case of tradition that reigns supreme? 

This recent act, a crowning moment for Juan Carlos, I think not.


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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy