Spanish WWF sacks King Juan Carlos over elephant hunt

King Juan Carlos, file pic The vote to abolish the position of honorary president was carried by a 94% majority

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The conservation group WWF in Spain has removed King Juan Carlos as its honorary president for going on an elephant hunting trip in Botswana.

The WWF's Spanish chapter voted overwhelmingly to abolish the post, a statement said, adding that the safari did not sit well with WWF goals.

The king was widely criticised after news of the trip emerged in April, in the middle of a severe economic crisis.

Spain's royal family has faced a series of embarrassments this year.

King Juan Carlos apologised to the Spanish people for the hunting trip, which only came to light when he was flown home from Africa after breaking a hip.

An online petition calling for his resignation from the WWF post accumulated almost 85,000 signatures by the time he made his public apology.


The controversy prompted Spanish newspapers to publish a photo of the king on a previous safari, in which he is seen standing with a gun beside a dead elephant.

"Although this type of hunting is legal and regulated, many members consider it to be incompatible with the position of honorary patron of an international organisation that aims to protect the environment," the WWF statement said on Saturday.

The vote to abolish the position of honorary president was carried by a 94% majority, it said.

The king is generally popular in Spain, but the royal family has been beset by a series of embarrassing news stories this year.

The king's son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, has been questioned in connection with a corruption scandal involving claims that he used public funds to organise sports events.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    If the Elephant followed their Human neighbours and realised that they were eating up their natural food source, they would make themselves an indigenous creature in England. We'd allow a few of them into the Country now and then, study their habits for a while, and then stop them getting on Planes and Trains, send them home and let them starve. The humans? Let them invade. No ??? asked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    There is everything wrong with hunting animals. They can be relocated to other areas, this is also CONSERVATION. But of course there may be no profit for greedy Hunting Companies. It's " Rich Greedy Man and Royal Families " who severely damaged the balance of nature in these areas in the first place. I am very pleased to see Juan Carlos has been kicked out and it should happen to others too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    A couple hundred thousand elephants live in Africa compared to 1 billion humans. And you hear people say that the elephant numbers are getting out of control! "They're destroying the environment. Its not sustainable" Culling is necessary. Unbelievable!!! Human population growth and greed for everything this planet has to offer is whats not sustainable!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Re:100 There are hundreds of thousands of living "beings" who are devastating places such as the city in which I live. Going out and killing them seems to be forbidden. They could be Humans or Rodents. Where do we draw the line? The BBC doesn't make Wildlife programmes that glorify Rats or make them fascinating.
    MY environment is deluged with filth, but they are human and protected.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    @100.SuidwesBoerseun - you say;

    "There is nothing wrong with the legal hunting of elephants. Ignorant activists from Europe cry a lot but controlled hunting of elephants is needed to protect the environment in places like Namibia and Botswana. "


    Sorry - but there's no justification for the shooting of elephants for fun! Plain and simple!

    Please rethink your values, ideas and attitudes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    lets start hunting the real infestation that populates this planet!! the global elite,

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    "There is nothing wrong with the legal hunting of elephants"

    Culling and hunting are very different things, with very different purposes - and it's a VERY important difference, SuidwesBoerseun.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I know, let's all go hunting King Juan Carlos!

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    "...Dinosaurs, who were not culled and populated for themselves and made themselves extinct?"

    Made themselves extinct, eh? Did they vote on it or something?

    "What will the elephants live on when they have obliterated the local habitat".

    Nature balances itself out with no help needed from us.

    Jeez - some people shouldn't be allowed unchaparoned access to computer keyboards...

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Killing wild animals for sport is a medieval remnant. Once used to impress, so called 'royalty' attaches itself to it to shout its class difference - whether it's blasting away 'socially' at birds, terrifying and dismembering foxes with dogs 'spectacularly' or killing elephants 'bravely' with unequal, cowardly fire power. It seems highly unlikely to me that human beings have any 'god-given' right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    King JC has led a sheltered, out of touch life where he can't even figure out the consequences of his "adventure". What he did is obviously wrong.
    That said, I believe that bullfighting isn't in the same category. At least exceptional bulls can be "pardoned" and live the rest of their lives in a stud farm. No such luck for the millions of cattle processed through industrial slaughterhouses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.


    "...but controlled hunting of elephants is needed to protect the environment in places like Namibia and Botswana"

    Controlled hunting by trained and skilled gamekeepers yes. Hunting trips for the rich and powerful in the name of `sport` no.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    @109. willinexile. Dinosaurs were wiped out by an extra terrestrial force - a large meteor - and did not make themselves extinct. Nature has many ways of controlling populations and elephants would not destroy all their habitat. The problem is an increasing human population and conflicts with wildlife as a result of increasing pressure on habitat from human expansion and farming.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    A lot of SPECIAL people leaving comments here. You cant hunt an elephant for any reason,legal or not, and be part of the WWF. Wise up people, your giving the rest of us a bad name..... Hey look, a black spot on the wall!! well i think its white, discuss?

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Phrince Philip was the first president of the WWF. He is still President Emeritus of the WWF. Prince Philip has been a lifelong supporter of and particpant in hunting in all its guises (including tiger shooting). The WWF has done absolutely the right thing with regard to the King of Spain but it should be prepared to stick to the principles it stands for in ALL cases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    Members of Royal family's all seem to have the need to kill something in their recreational pursuits, good job we are not all like that otherwise their would be nothing left.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    98 willinexile

    "Botswana has a n overpopulation of elephants and if rich people want to spnd money for some people to earn honest..."

    Many experts say there is an overpopulation of humans on this planet. Have you any suggestions as to how that might be rectified?

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    King Juan Carlos isn't one of those super rich avoiding his tax, as well, is he?

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    "How many of the critics here have been to BOTSWANA?"


    I have, and to South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho as well.

    Just to visit my cousins: Kalahari meerkats.

    Btw. How much of the natural habitat they destroy?

    [Inquiring minds want to know]


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