Spain’s King Juan Carlos’ crown tarnished with latest trophy hunting gaffe

Spain's King Juan Carlos is facing criticism for taking a hunting trip in Botswana, reportedly costing $56,000, during which the monarch broke his hip and ended up in hospital. The news sent waves of disapproval throughout the country. Spain is currently dealing with a financial debt crisis and its inhabitants are struggling to cope with increased unemployment and harsh austerity. Juan Carlos—who happens to be honorary chairman of the Spanish Branch of the World Wildlife Fund—is also the target of significant backlash from animal lovers and wildlife conservationists, many of whom are calling for his expulsion from the organization.

Unfortunately, Juan Carlos’ misstep is far from an isolated incident; rather, it is part of a more widespread problem involving trophy hunting and the wealthy individuals who support these activities. With the proliferation of traditional and new media, public figures must generally be more socially and morally responsible in their everyday lives, since stories that would normally run under-the-radar now threaten to become viral and gain national—and international—attention; vainglorious trophy hunting seems to be a reoccurring example of such excess becoming a high-profile scandal. Just last month, two sons of Donald Trump sparked controversy when graphic photos capturing them on an African trophy hunting safari surfaced on the Internet. In 2011, GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons ignited outrage after a video of his elephant hunt surfaced online. 

Confronted with trophy hunting, poaching, abduction from the wild for the exotic pet trade, habitat loss, climate change and retaliatory killings from human/wildlife conflict, animals in the wild are already facing mounting threats and an uncertain future. Yet each year imperiled animals like African lions, leopards and elephants are killed for sport and imported to the U.S.

Juan Carlos and his hired gun will likely argue that trophy hunting helps wildlife by injecting money into local African economies – but these alleged benefits to local communities are rarely substantiated, and more often evidence emerges of funds staying at government capitols or with foreign hunting outfitters.

With billions of dollars in net worth between them, wealthy individuals such as Juan Carlos and the Trumps can afford to make high-impact, tangible changes in communities around the world without supporting cruel and unsustainable practices such as trophy hunting. Their ignorance and hubris can no longer go unnoticed.


For more information about IFAW’s work to protect imperiled animals that are still being trophy hunted—like African lions and polar bears—please go to

For additional information on trophy hunting, I invite you to read my article on The Huffington Post.

Comments: 3

6 years ago

This is disgusting. How can someone live with themselves knowing they murdered an magnificent, powerful and more importantly ENDANGERED animal? What really makes me sick is that it was all for fun. Helping the African economy and wildlife, please. How do they think the loss of the elephants will impact the ecosystem. Not that they care. This is a heinous act that should be punished without the option of bail. Money cannot buy back the extinct.

6 years ago

Once more this prooves how useless and, what is much worse, how cruel, heartless and without soul, "kings" and other "powerful people" are, who are ruling and manipulating many countries in this world. It is so terribly sad to see that "human laws" are made in the favour of such criminals and killers!
But they forget that there is an universal law, the law of cause and effect, and sooner or later, criminals like them, no matter whether king or millionaire, will get their own shots backfires!
The soul of this wonderful defenseless animal will be, together with the souls of thousands of other marvellous inocent animals, in heaven now.
And the killer(s) will get what he(they) deserve(s), because NOBODY CAN ESCAPE DIVINE JUSTICE!!!

6 years ago

This is absolutely outrageous! How on earth can Juan Carlos hold the title "honarary chairman of the Spanish Branch of the WWF???? There is nothing honourable about this cretin and he should be removed from the WWF immediately. Broke his hip? Wish he had broken his neck!

So many wealthy people profess to do so much good - and they could - but instead get carried away with this "killing" fetish.

What pleasure is obtained by seeing a magnificent animal fatally wounded by something it cannot defend itself from.

Sickening beyond belief!

Sissy Stümpke
6 years ago

Ich kann diesem Artikel nur vollinhaltlich zustimmen. Als ich die Nachricht hörte, war ich mehr als entsetzt. Ja, es stimmt schon, dass das spanische Volk zurzeit mit der Wirtschaftskrise andere Sorgen hat und sich durch diese kostspielige Art der Freizeitgestaltung ihres Königs mehr als verhöhnt vorkommen muss.
Aber viel schlimmer ist das Signal, welches er als sog. Ehrenpräsident des WWF gesetzt hat.
Er muss doch wissen, wie es um die Lage der Elefanten steht. Was geht nur in solch einem Menschen vor? Kann er sich tatsächlich noch selbst in den Spiegel schauen? Und wenn ich dann sehe, wie er mit Tränen in den Augen sich bei seinem Volk entschuldigt?! Es ist nicht zu fassen. Er sollte sich bei den Elefanten entschuldigen, bei den vielen Tierschützern, die alles tun, um diese herrlichen Tiere zu retten. Und vor allem sollte er jetzt aktiv werden: dies ist die einzige Chance, um noch etwas gut zu machen. Er sollte sich schleunigst für den Schutz der Elefanten einsetzen und alles in seiner Macht stehende dafür unternehmen!
Er sollte seine "Kontakte" zu den Schwerreichen nutzen, um endlich diesem Massaker ein Ende zu machen. Es gibt so viele prominente wunderbare Menschen, die sich unermüdlich für die Tiere einsetzen. Daran kann er sich ein Beispiel nehmen! Das würde ihm jetzt anstehen. Wäre schön, wenn er das endlich verstehen würde und danach handelt.
Sissi Stümpke

Post a comment


Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Joseph Okori
Regional Director, Southern Africa and Program Director, Landscape Conservation
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
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy