Changing Planet

Elephant Killed for TV Show

I’ve been on a rant for a few days against an NRA show that thinks killing an elephant for fun is good TV.  The host of the show, an NRA lobbyist, is on a big game hunt for elephants in Botswana, Africa.  The guide leads the host, Tony Makris, to a spot near where a bull elephant is calmly grazing, unaware of their presence.  Some scrub bushes separate the hunter from the elephant’s line of sight.

Makris then shoots the elephant in the head three times, killing it.  Later he and the guide are shown drinking a toast to their great day of elephant killing, and saying how great it is to harvest an elephant and bring back the ivory.  The whole thing made me disgusted and angry so I finally decided to record some of my thoughts on why I found this whole program and Makris and his posturing so offensive.

I’ve also included some of the alarming facts on the rise in elephant poaching, which makes the killing of one for fun and a TV show even more reprehensible.  And not that anyone needs reminding of just how charismatic and special elephants are, wait I take that back since apparently Makris and his ilk do, but I’ve also included some footage I shot of elephants at Singita Lebombo Lodge in South Africa.

I also talk about this senseless and sickening killing of an elephant this weekend on my radio show, “National Geographic Weekend.”

Boyd Matson, in his work for National Geographic, has been bitten, scratched, or pooped on, and occasionally kissed by most of the creatures found at your local zoo. What he refers to as his job, others might describe as a career spent attending summer camp for adults. Currently Matson is the host of the weekly radio show, “National Geographic Weekend.” Conducting interviews from the studio and from the field, Matson connects with some of the greatest explorers and adventurers on the planet to transport listeners to the far corners of the world and to the hidden corners of their own backyards. Matson also writes about his experiencs in his monthly column, “Boyd Matson Unbound” for National Geographic Traveler magazine, produces videos for National Geographic.com, and serves as a spokesperson for the National Geographic Society.
  • CM

    I can’t believe how spiritless and insensitive these men are. I dare not watch the video. May they reap the “benefits” of their incomprehensible deeds.

  • Lynn Kintz

    I saw part of this program by accident. I’d dozed off during the one before and woke to see them weighing bloody elephant tusks with the NRA identification at the commercial break. This is outrageous (and isn’t it illegal?). Is there anywhere I can add my voice in protest?

  • terry

    Humans are terrible. No animal other than a human would spend a large amount of resources to fly to Africa, give more resources to another animal to show it a third animal, kill that animal and then not eat it.

  • Valerie T

    I go between profound sadness and absolute disgust.

  • Serap Yavuzbas

    How unpleasant what happened. Obviously that media is still after ratings for “obvious majority”! Which are not interested in “how it is done”!

    My best wishes

    Serap 🙂

  • Dumbo Raged

    Lynn, Youtube is a good place to start as these idiots, show hosts and producers, have a place where they can relive their crimes. At the same time they can see what everyone thinks of them.

    Causes.com has a petition on taking this show off the air

  • Dr. Ken Schmidt

    Disgusting. The NRA should be ashamed. The ‘hunters’ are hardly that. They are no better than poachers, pure and simple. Where is the ‘sport’ in what they did?

  • Bob Lee

    It is important to note: In Botswana and South Africa, “culling” elephants is required to protect the precarious ecology: Too many elephants – and not enough food in the dry season – creates a hazard for neighboring herds and crops.

    The real hero is the unnamed private reserve “tracker” who selected the elderly elephant for Tony Makris to kill: The old one-tusked male elephant had taken to hiding in thick brush to avoid attack by younger male elephant gangs. In short, it was likely to become too dangerous to humans, as well as to other elephants – while it was already old enough to pass on its genes.

    Makris, on the other hand, was just another retired Marine goofing off as a foreign tourist – and failed to demonstrate any real hunting prowess requiring at least three shots to takedown the elephant – which requires real working knowledge of your prey.

    Real hunters track, hunt, and prepare to eat their kill: Tourists kill, take trophies, and sell the kill to local villagers for meat.

  • Namibia PH

    Culling or harvesting of elephants is done in Botswana and other countries in order to maintain herd size that the area can sustain as determined by wildlife biologists.

    Botswana has over 130,000 elephants with a habitat estimated to be able to sustain less than half that number.

    The oldest bulls are the main target of these harvests as they wear out their 6th set of teeth with age and will die of starvation. During this end of life process these bulls get very ornery and tear down trees (vital for wildlife) and attack villages killing people and ruining crops that sustain villagers.

    Botswana and other countries sell high fee hunting permits to their PH’s (professional hunters) who in turn sell hunting trips for specific game animals per the wildlife biologist’s studies.

    The large fees generated from these hunts go back into the government to support the biologists, anti-poaching law enforcement and the local communities, etc.

    The meat from an elephant approx. 3-4,000 pounds from an aged-out bull is harvested from the animal by the local villagers and provides their food. They do not have grocery stores; they get their food from wild game in the bush and small vegetable gardens which are also trampled by angry old bulls. Ivory is not allowed to be imported in many countries including the USA.

    In place of hunters the government will now cull the herds by shooting the elephants from helicopters –which will not be broadcast on television and no fees will be earned.

    Africa is unlike most people’s homelands and has its’ own unique requirements, which most people simply cannot imagine by watching television from the comfort of their 21st century homes with modern conveniences and numerous stores full of groceries with meats and vegetables processed by others without need to get one’s hands soiled from butchering and farming.

  • Geoff Harper

    Ineptitude manifested. Deplorable behaviour. Disgusting.

  • Josh

    An awful lot of emotion here and not much critical thinking analysis. So the guy legally shot an elephant. Big deal. Isn’t there a huge distinction there with the illegal and destructive poaching you also complain about? Why not take this opportunity to explain how legal management hunting brings in a lot of local money, as elephants are a sustainable and renewable resource, as opposed to rapacious and unsustainable poaching? It seems you are simply against hunting. That’s the real story here: A National Geo guy is an anti hunting extremist. Pretty sad times for a once-great institution.

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