Wildlife conservationists are outraged after a video published by the New Yorker and The Trance on Tuesday showed the NRA’s president and his wife fatally shooting two endangered elephants in Botswana in 2013. According to the news outlets, they obtained a copy of the video, which was originally shot for an NRA-sponsored television series but was never aired due to public relations concerns.
In the ten-minute video, Wayne LaPierre, Jr., executive vice president of the NRA, can be seen shooting and wounding a savannah elephant his guides tracked for him in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The video shows LaPierre failing to kill the animal with three shots at point-blank range as the animal lies immobile on the ground.
“You want to do it for him?” one of the guides finally says to another before one man fires the final shot.
Afterward, the guides pat LaPierre on the back, saying “well done,” “congratulations” and “That was one heck of an elephant hunt.”
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, a U.S.-based nonprofit that works to protect endangered species, Savannah elephants were recently upgraded to endangered status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Endangered Species.
“Savannah elephants were just declared endangered by international experts, and these intelligent beings certainly shouldn’t be used as paper targets by an inept marksman,” Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
“It’s sickening to see LaPierre’s brutal, clumsy slaughter of this beautiful creature. No animal should suffer like this. We’re in the midst of a poaching epidemic, and rich trophy hunters like the NRA chief are blasting away at elephants while the international community calls for stiffer penalties for poachers – what message does that send?”
The second half of the video shows guides assisting Susan LaPierre in her attempt to shoot another elephant. The elephant falls to the ground as she fires the first shot. She fires another round into the elephant’s stomach before severing the elephant’s tail and holding it up to the camera.
“Victory,” she says, adding, “That’s my elephant tail. Way cool.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a U.S.-based animal rights organization, urged Congress to “watch the video, condemn trophy addicts’ murder of animals for their body parts, and have the courage to reject NRA money.”
“Behind the NRA’s macho posturing are scared little men who pay tens of thousands of dollars for someone else to track elephants so that they can shoot them ineptly at close range,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement, adding the elephant “died horrifically.”
LaPierre, a New York native, has been chief executive of the NRA since 1991. The controversial organization, which has over 5 million members, has experienced financial and leadership turmoil, highlighted by a public power struggle between LaPierre and NRA President Oliver North, which resulted in North’s ouster in 2019.
Last year, the New York Attorney General, who is attempting to shut down the NRA, accused LaPierre and three other NRA leaders of participating in a $64 million fraud scheme that financed lavish lifestyles that included private jet travel to exclusive resorts. Earlier this year, a New York judge denied the NRA’s move to throw out the lawsuit, allowing it to move ahead in state court in Manhattan.