Elephant hunting trip auction in Calgary expected to draw protesters
CALGARY -- A limited number of elephant hunts in the southern African nation of Botswana will be on the auction block this weekend in Calgary to the disappointment of animal rights activists.
Botswana, which is slightly larger than France, is home to about 130,000 elephants, nearly one-third of the entire wild population on the continent.
Last year, Botswana's government lifted a five-year ban on hunting the pachyderms in response to a surge in population. Local farmers complained after aggressive elephants claimed human lives and trampled crops. Their numbers were also challenging efforts to bring back other endangered species including the Baobab tree.
Bill Boycott, the owner of the outfitting business selling the hunts, says although it might be upsetting to many, he has the support of the locals. He says the hunts employ local people and thousands of pounds of meat from each elephant are taken as food for surrounding communities.
Calgary’s Daisy Foundation says it plans to protest the Calgary International Hunting Expo where the outfitter will be selling the hunts. The event will take place Saturday at the Westin Calgary Airport Hotel.
Activists say approximately 20,000 elephants are killed each year in Africa, about five per cent of the total population. The majority are killed by ivory poachers.
According to Humane Society International, roughly 100 African elephant tusks have been legally imported to Canada over the past decade.
Brian Keating of GreatBigNature.com says the issue of a high elephant population in Botswana could potentially resolve itself as the region is in the midst of a multi-year drought.
The Calgary Humane Society issued the following statement Thursday afternoon regarding the auctioning of the elephant hunt:
"CHS (Calgary Humane Society) is firmly opposed to the use of animals in any form of entertainment that puts the animal at risk of suffering stress, pain, injury or death, which includes trophy hunting. The organization also supports a ban on the importation of any animal parts to be used as trophies."
"For close to a century, CHS has strived to lead, educate and inspire others in the compassionate treatment of animals. Our vision is to live in a world where animals are valued and humanely treated so we are consistently demonstrating respect and compassion for all living beings. We sincerely hope the Safari Club will reconsider its auction item offerings to exclude any item where an animal is harmed and the Westin Calgary Airport Hotel will reevaluate hosting an event where such activities are promoted."