About 50 protesters gathered outside the Westin hotel by the Calgary airport on Saturday, speaking out against a controversial elephant hunt.
In the past week, Safari Club International’s Calgary chapter was under fire as people learned that it was auctioning off a two-week hunting trip to Botswana where killing elephants for sport is no longer banned.
The elephant hunt was withdrawn from the Calgary auction, but the prized hunt is still up for sale. In a statement released on Friday, SCI said that there has been considerable interest in the hunt, which led the group to ask the outfitter if it could be sold privately instead of auctioned off.
Despite the announcement that the elephant auction was no longer part of SCI’s fundraiser, animal rights activists still protested Saturday.
Activists said they wanted to put pressure on SCI and the hotel that hosted the event.
“We want to make sure that Safari International knows how we are against this event… and them know we’re not accepting the fact that they’ve allowed this to happen, so we’re out here protesting,” said organizer Heather McClure Anderson.
“We want to see eventually Calgary never have this event in the city.”
David Little, president of SCI’s Calgary chapter, said hunting for population control was a viable tool that Botswana was redeploying.
“The destruction that’s going on in Botswana — they are ruining their own ecosystem,” he said. “This five-year suspension of hunting in Botswana appears to have been maybe a mistake.”
McClure Anderson said the population control reasoning for hunting is false.
“I think there’s a lot more land than there are elephants, and these elephants have ample room to roam. I think it’s a cop out. I think it’s all about money,” she said.
McClure Anderson stressed the value of animals’ lives.
“We live in a very fragile world and it’s about time we started realizing that animals — they love, they feel pain and they are just like us,” she said.
“People need to start realizing animals have a lot of worth and being a trophy on the wall is not worth.”
Little said cancelling the elephant hunt auction had nothing to do with media coverage, just the limited number of tags.
“If it was a mule deer or an elk or something where there’s thousands of tags, this never happens, but with only 10 tags, it went very quickly,” he said. “I would thank the protesters for helping publicize it. Half the world knew that these were for sale now and that may have driven the buyers.”
SCI said it appreciates those who support the hunt, including the people of Botswana to “determine their future and the role ethical, controlled hunting plays in the long-term conservation.”
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