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NRA lobbyist kills elephant on TV, outrage ensues

NRA flack Tony Makris shoots and (eventually) kills elephant on NBC Sports Network show "Under Wild Skies."

By KRISTEN BUTLER, UPI.com
NRA lobbyist kills elephant on TV, outrage ensues
Tony Makris and his guide stand next to their kill, a bull elephant in Botswana, in an episode of the NRA-sponsored series "Under Wild Skies" on NBC Sports Network. (Under Wild Skies/NBC Sports Network)

National Rifle Association lobbyist Tony Makris often kills big game for the NRA-sponsored show "Under Wild Skies," but a recent episode in which he shot and killed a bull elephant stirred public outrage.

Though the program has aired on various networks, NBC Sports Network is taking heat for airing recent episodes.

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In one episode, Makris and his guide are shown tracking a bull elephant. They take aim and shoot the animal twice, but don't kill it. "Somebody got a little cheeky there," Makris chuckled as the elephant trumpeted and charged toward them, when Makris shoots it again, "between the eyes."

In another scene, Makris and his guide stand next to the dead animal and brag about how they snuck right into its "bedroom" to kill it. As they sip champagne, the guide extols the "special" act of bringing the elephant's ivory back to camp.

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NBC Sports faced backlash on Twitter and an online petition is calling for the network to cancel the show.

Big game hunting is legal in many government-controlled reserves in Africa, funded by rich safari hunters whose money often ends up in government conservation programs.

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But the episode was taped in Botswana, where elephant populations are dwindling, and a recent ban on hunting the species won't go into effect until next year. And poachers continue to be a problem all over the continent -- in Zimbabwe they recently began poisoning watering holes with cyanide to harvest ivory from more than 80 elephants so far.

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Makris, a legislative and PR strategist for the NRA, has hunted elephants, lions, rhinos and more for the show.

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