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Environment

Spanish king sacked as World Wildlife Fund patron

The King of Spain has been ousted as a patron of the country’s World Wildlife Fund branch because of an elephant-hunting trip he made to Botswana.

Spain's King Juan Carlos waves from inside a car as he leaves a hospital after being discharged in Madrid April 18, 2012. King Juan Carlos came under intense media fire on Sunday for hunting elephants in Botswana when his country was being sucked back into the euro zone's financial crisis and one young Spaniard out of two was unemployed. The royal holiday last week would have remained secret if the king had not tripped on a step, fractured his hip and had to be flown back urgently to Madrid to undergo hip replacement surgery on Saturday morning. REUTERS/Andrea Comas (SPAIN - Tags: ROYALS HEALTH POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT)

Spaniens König Juan Carlos verlässt Krankenhaus

In a statement published online on Saturday, the World Wildlife Fund in Spain announced its decision to scrap the position of honorary president held by the king after complaints about the hunting expedition.

The secretive trip in April came to light when the king was flown home for emergency surgery after a fall. It emerged that the monarch had taken part in an elephant-hunting safari.

"The members of WWF Spain voted today in a general meeting to end the position of honorary president, held until now by King Juan Carlos, from the statutes of the organization," it said in a statement published online.

An elephant

The king's hunting trip did not go over well with many Spaniards

While the hunting trip was legal under Botswana law, the WWF in Spain said the monarch's participation had made some members uneasy.

"Although this type of hunt is legal and regulated, many members considered it incompatible with the honorary presidency of an international organization for the defense of nature and the environment," the WWF said.

The Royal Palace declined immediate comment on the announcement.

News of the hunting trip was just the latest piece of bad publicity for the Spanish monarchy after a string of scandals, including corruption allegations against the king's son-in-law.

The opulence of the expedition angered many Spaniards as the country struggles with a deep recession and record unemployment.

rc/mz (AFP, AP, Reuters)