Bryan Hemming

short stories, comment, articles, humour and photography

The King of Spain & Elephants

The most ridiculous excuse I heard for King Juan Carlos of Spain being in Botswana slaughtering elephants over last weekend was the African country is, more or less, so overpopulated with the magnificent beasts you can hardly move. As I said to the wife, you don’t hear of so many elephants going over to Spain to kill King Juan Carlos and his family because of overpopulation of humans in Europe.

Why doesn’t the silly old buffer leave the poor animals alone? Can anyone honestly believe he is doing the people, or the elephants, of Botswana a favour? Lucky for most of the elephants he broke his hip while out there before too many had to die at his hands. And lucky for us too, as we might not have heard quite so much of his passion for killing rare and exotic animals had he not. Apparently, Botswana has the largest population of elephants in the world, and it’s growing. Although it has a very small human population of just over two million, that’s growing too. And very fast. Seems to me a case of humans moving into elephant country then grumbling about the number of elephants. It’s rather like moving to Spain then complaining there are too many Spaniards. I’m sure there are those that do. I don’t know what the elephants of Botswana think about it, but I bet they’d like trigger-happy, blue-blooded Spaniards with big elephant guns to stay well away.

The news drew my attention to the fact there are also many people in Botswana who seem to think there are too many Bushmen living in Bushmen country, the part of Botswana that has been theirs since the dawn of time. Too many, according to Debswana, a partnership set up by the Botswana government and De Beers to mine the ancestral lands of the Bushmen for diamonds. Many Bushmen – or San – of the Kalahari Desert still live the traditional hunter gatherer lives of their predecessors. San people have been doing that for twenty thousand years. Or more. The anthropologists cannot really know, unless they have become anthro-apologists, which is how so many of their paymasters want them to be. One thing is certain, apart from the Bushmen, nobody else wanted to live there until diamonds were discovered.

Since the mid-1990s the government of Botswana has been trying to move the San out of their traditional lands and into settlements. I suppose they get in the way. And when De Beers want something bad enough they usually win. They are amongst the bigggest players in the region. The largest diamond mine in the world happens to be in Botswana. The Botswana government and De Beers probably don’t want to pay the Bushmen for what are in reality their diamonds. It’s also quite likely the Bushmen have no use for money, or mobile phones and HD TV’s, and prefer their lands as they’ve always been ie: with the diamonds in them. Some might say it’s a case of there being too many diamonds and too many greedy bastards after them.

And things are looking even worse for the Bushmen with uranium being discovered in the Kalahari. “Botswana rapidly emerging as uranium power” according to a recent headline in MINING .com. We can expect a whole load of interested parties explaining why it’s so important for the Bushmen to come to terms with the 21st century. Botswana’s persecution of the Bushmen has been condemned by Prof. James Anaya, the UN’s top official on indigenous rights, in a report released in February 2010.

It seems the Botswana government and diamond miners don’t really like Bushmen. Neither is the government so fond of elephants. They get in the way of settlers, and even tourists, they explain, who just like a few of the more photogenic ones arranged tastefully about the veldt.

King Juan Carlos of Spain, coincidentally president of Spain’s WWF (World Wildlife Fund), doesn’t seem that fond of elephants either. Not live ones, at least. Or wild ones. He may not know, but apparently, they only get really wild when you try to kill them. Having seen him I suspect King Juan Carlos only gets really angry when his family is under attack. I can’t think he is too happy when elephants, or anyone else, begin to attack him, or members of his family. And I don’t blame him, despite his present difficulties with a couple of close members.

I don’t pretend know what His Majesty’s view on Bushmen are, but we can be sure his recent activities do nothing to help their cause. In my mind the San constitute part of World Wildlife and in writing it my intention is far from condescending.

A final note. Royal families throughout the world are becoming an endangered species. But should they need protecting? Perhaps they are their own worst enemy, to judge from the most recent news. Known for their ability to shoot themselves in the foot, metaphorically speaking, one young Spanish royal did just do that literally a couple of weeks ago. The king of Spain’s 13-year-old grandson shot himself in the foot, which normally would lead to an investigation and charges being brought against the responsible adult present. We’ll see.

To read more on the soap the Spanish royals have become click here.

A relevant link: truthout Link to an article in truthout by an outstanding journalist who dares voice an honest opinion.

Chris Hedges wrote: The Implosion of Capitalism

Copyright © 2012 Bryan Hemming Conil

One comment on “The King of Spain & Elephants

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes
    August 10, 2013

    There’s truly nothing like shooting yourself in the foot.
    Great article, Bryan. Surprised I haven’t spied this one. A gruesome thought, but it brought me to wonder how many bullets it takes to kill an elephant.
    But I’m glad he broke his hip too.

    Seeya 🙂


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