Calgary

Elephant hunting trip no longer being auctioned by Calgary group

A two-week licensed elephant hunt in Botswana will no longer be auctioned off at a Calgary event this weekend.

Animal rights group says Canada needs to catch up in banning elephant part trading

An elephant hunting trip is no longer being auctioned off at a Calgary event. (Richard Vogel/The Associated Press)

A two-week licensed elephant hunt in Botswana will no longer be auctioned off at a Calgary event this weekend.

The Calgary Alberta Chapter of the Safari Club International was set to auction off the expedition with a starting bid of $84,000.

 Safari Club Calgary's president David Little said Saturday the outfitter sold the hunting trip directly, so the trip was no longer available to be auctioned.

The licence would also be the first for a foreigner to hunt elephant in Botswana since the nation lifted its ban on African elephant trophy hunting in May.

That raised concerns about a possible increase in illegal poaching of elephants for their tusks to supply the ivory trade.

Michael Bernard, the deputy director of Humane Society International Canada, called the auction appalling.

"This is a population that is under attack, and Canada contributing to the decline of the species, to us, is just shocking," he said.

African elephants are listed as "vulnerable" by the World Wildlife Fund, an international conservation group, along with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUNC).

It's estimated there are approximately 415,000 of the species in the wild. The vulnerable status is one category away from being "endangered."

Bernard pointed out how Canada still allows the limited trade of elephant parts in the country, including the trade of ivory.

"I think that's something Canadians would find shocking," Bernard said.

Bernard suggested Canada should make regulatory amendments to its WAPPRIITA (Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act) Act, which looks at wild species protection and trade.

"It's something … many other countries have done, including China," he said.

Elephants are top species in their environment, Bernard said, and removing one species can have a "cascading effect" and "dire consequences."

The Calgary Humane Society was also vocal about the looming auction earlier in the week and posted a statement on  social media that it was firmly opposed to trophy hunting.

But Little said the population flourished during the ban on hunting elephants in Botswana.

The IUNC also shows the populations are increasing in some areas in Africa.

"The [protestors are] certainly welcome to have that opinion, but the folks in Botswana have their right to manage wildlife populations, any way they want," Little said.

"And for us to say they can't is a form of neocolonialism. How dare we tell Botswana what we want them to do with their wildlife?"

The club's annual fundraising dinner is set for Saturday night at The Westin Calgary Airport.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated the hunt auction was cancelled after protests and that the hunt would be sold privately at a later date. In fact, the Safari Club said the auction was cancelled because the hunt had already been privately sold.
    Jan 25, 2020 7:48 PM MT

With files from Lucie Edwardson and the Associated Press