NBC Sports Network is facing criticism after airing an episode of the outdoor sports program Under Wild Skies in which a National Rifle Association lobbyist shoots and kills a bull African elephant.
In the episode, which aired Sunday night, NRA strategist Tony Makris and a hunting guide track an elephant in Botswana's Okavango Delta. Makris spots an elephant and shoots it in the face twice, causing the injured elephant to trumpet and run away. "Somebody got a little cheeky there," Makris chuckles as the animal attempts to escape. He and his guide eventually catch up to the elephant and Makris delivers the fatal blow. After posing next to the elephant's body with his his "lethal" Tyrannosaur rifle and .577 ammunition, Makris and his guide return to their lodge to celebrate with champagne.
Under Wild Skies is not produced by NBC but is a "time buy," in which outside producers pay to air content, similar to an infomercial. In this case, the outside producers are the NRA, who sponsor the show. In response to the internet uproar over the graphic footage, NBC issued a statement Thursday confirming that they will not re-broadcast the particular episode, but will continue to air the show:
"We've listened to our viewers and will not air that particular episode of Under Wild Skies again. We're also taking a close look at our internal standards as part of this process because this content should not have aired. While this form of hunting is legal, we understand that many viewers find it objectionable. As a result we are taking an aggressive approach towards objectionable content within future episodes of Under Wild Skies and other series."
"Controlled big game hunting still goes on in Africa and many reserves are set up by governments, who use money paid by rich safari hunters to fund broader conservation efforts," The Australian explains. "Elephant numbers in Botswana, however, have declined so greatly that a ban on hunting has been legislated. That ban won't come into force until next year."