Spanish King Juan Carlos made a public apology for hunting in Africa while his country is reeling from a high unemployment rate and a general economic crisis, reports said.
The 74-year-old monarch made the apology on Wednesday upon leaving the hospital after breaking his hip on the trip to Botswana, AFP reported.
“I am very sorry. I made a mistake and it won’t happen again. Thank you for your interest,” he said.
Many Spanish people felt insulted that Juan Carlos took such an extravagant trip to Africa during the country’s economic recession. In Spain, the unemployment rate for people under the age of 25 surpassed 50 percent earlier this month.
“The sight of a monarch hunting elephants in Africa when the economic crisis in our country is causing so many problems for Spaniards does not set a good example,” an editorial from conservative newspaper El Mundo was quoted as saying by AFP.
Juan Carlos’s elephant hunting trip drew even more criticism from conservation groups as he is the honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund.
“The fact that he is killing African animals instead of promoting safaris is simply unthinkable,” Spanish wildlife guide Eva Monika Bratek told The Olive Press. “The King might want to help his image by spending his money on sustainable activities which would help his own country’s economy in difficult times.”
The head of WWF’s Spain branch, Juan Carlos del Olmo, told the publication that it is “deeply sensitive to the serious damage this outcry is causing to our credibility, particularly over the protection of elephants and other species.”