The National Rifle Association’s chief executive fired repeatedly at close range at a wounded elephant but was unable to shoot his rifle properly, a newly-released video shows.
The botched elephant hunt by Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive, and a top U.S. gun lobbyist, is sparking outrage and he is being mocked on social media for his inability to use his gun.
The video was released at a particularly troubling time for both the NRA and Southern African governments which are planning to sell licenses for new elephants hunts.
LaPierre fired repeatedly at close range at a wounded and immobilized elephant, failing to kill the animal until a friend finished the job, according to a gruesome video from 2013 posted on the website of The New Yorker this week.
Last month, African savanna elephants were classified as endangered for the first time on the “red list” of threatened species at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, after a 60 per cent decline in their numbers over the past half-century.
But some Southern African countries, where the largest herds are found, have begun licensing hunters to shoot hundreds of elephants due to concerns about over-population and growing conflict between elephants and human settlements.
The newly-released video shows LaPierre in safari clothes on the guided hunt in the Botswana bush. He makes several errors by shooting too early and then hitting the elephant in the wrong places, even when firing at point-blank range after a guide shows him exactly where to aim.
By then the elephant is lying on its side and struggling to breathe as the shots continue.
“I’m not sure where you’re shooting,” the guide tells him at one point.
Later in the hunt, LaPierre’s wife, Susan, shoots another elephant that had been tracked by guides and cuts off its tail as a trophy.
“Victory!” she shouts as she brandishes the elephant tail. “Way cool!”
The couple travelled to Botswana’s Okavango Delta, where they hoped to show NRA members that they had the grit to take on a different adversary: African bush elephants, the largest land mammals on Earth.
The Trace and The New Yorker obtained a copy of the footage, which has been hidden from public view for eight years.
The NRA, in a statement released to U.S. media, acknowledged Mr. LaPierre’s involvement in the elephant hunt. It said the hunt was legal and fully regulated and would provide economic and cultural benefits for the local community in Botswana.
The 10-minute video was recorded in 2013, but was kept secret until obtained by The Trace, a non-profit journalism outlet that focuses on gun violence.
It reported that body parts from the Botswana hunt were secretly shipped to the United States so that the front feet of the elephants could be turned into stools in the home of the LaPierres.
The video has triggered anger on social media in Southern Africa and elsewhere.