American network, NBC, aired a big-game episode on their sports channel of NRA-sponsored Under Wild Skies that depicted the host shooting an elephant multiple times, and finally between the eyes. As many know, elephants are listed as both a threatened and endangered species under the endangered species act. By supporting the show, NBC, the NRA, and the show’s sponsors have undermined everything that conservationists have accomplished with elephants by promoting the trophy killing of the endangered species on their program.
A backlash started this week after articles on the issue were published by the Huffington Post and Daily Mail UK that brought attention to the fairly new television series. Hundreds of comments can still be seen at NBC’s facebook page. The network remained silent, posting trivial tv agendas in an attempt to disengage the furious viewers. Many have stated that the television show should be canceled or a boycott would ensue, others stating that the network should make amends by donating to an elephant conservation. However, instead of responding in a tasteful manner, the network released a heartless statement with the Los Angeles Times –
In response to public outcry, NBC Sports Network has decided not to rebroadcast this particular episode, but will continue to air “Under Wild Skies.”
“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,” the network said in a statement. “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.”
Media has hit a new low. As you can see, the network has taken an unapologetic tone and has dismissed the act. Commercial hunting of the species will be illegal this coming year. NBC is sticking with their argument that the killing was legal at the time, but provide no mention of the moral and ethical considerations.
The host of Under Wild Skies claims in an interview that big-game hunting helps poor areas in Africa. The show’s facebook page has also released photos of what it claims is the elephant meat being delegated to locals in Botswana. One image’s caption states, “Hungry people, who rely on the meat harvested from their villages quota of elephant.”
This quota claim happens to be a reflection of corrupt politics. Quotas are desperately used to entice income from big-game hunters, when other systems for income could be introduced that protect and conserve species. Conservationist Dereck Joubert has argued that,
“Hunting contributed much less to the economy of Botswana than it reported. In fact it added less that 0.27% to the GDP. The Wildlife Management Association (Hunters) said that it added P60M a year ($6M) but at least 80% of that stayed in US or Swiss bank accounts and the number, when we investigated. was a turnover number not a taxable profit number, so in essence hunting in Botswana earned less than one high end eco tourism camp. In fact one acre of land in prime location under hunting versus under tourism at much more environmental impact generated roughly 1,300% LESS income for government and communities. Less income leads to more poverty and increased poaching.”
At the end of a day, a kill is a kill. Whether this act was done legally or illegally is irrelevant. There is one less elephant in the wild for the sake of entertainment.
Greg Hughes, Senior Vice President, Communications, NBC Sports Group, has responded to viewer complaints with a similarly disconnected message:
Hughes, Greg (NBCUniversal) <email@example.com>
Thanks for writing to us.
We take viewer feedback seriously, and we 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.
While this form of hunting is legal, we understand many find it objectionable.
Thanks again for your concern.
You can write your thoughts on NBC social media pages or contact NBC executives and PR personnel directly at their public emails –
Here is a petition to remove the show, already with 47,000 supporters.
On the bright side, it is wonderful to see the general public passionately taking protest. We can all do our part to change things for the better. Pressure in numbers is a powerful tool.