A pretty blonde with a huge grin and an even bigger gun sits behind a dead leopard that she’s clearly just killed. Cue therapist… and how do you feel about that?
It seems everyone in the world over the last couple of weeks has an opinion to express after images of Texan Cheerleader Kendall Jones and her big game hunt in Africa were uploaded for all to see. Questions of land preservation, killing for food and plain trophy hunting were among the issues brought up in the thousands of comments left on Miss Jones’ pictures.
Her supporters – obviously – are hunters from all over the world who have been quick to defend her, saying what she is doing is not illegal, and since she has paid the African government to kill these endangered animals, it is absolutely fine. Recently she posted on Facebook, “I’m humbled by the words of encouragement from men and women within the hunting community who have worked tirelessly to protect and promote hunting through conservation in Africa and all over the world.”
But the overwhelming majority of people disagree with Miss Jones’ actions, and have attacked her via social media. At least two petitions and numerous Facebook groups have been created to have her page removed from Facebook, and the barrage of comments on her page express disgust with her behaviour. One Facebook user commented on a photo of Miss Jones posing with six African animals she had killed saying, “How can [yo]u smile so bright when standing by a beautiful creature that you killed.”
Miss Jones replied with, “Maybe people should get their facts straight. Leopards, Lions, Elephants and White Rhinos are protected by permits issued by CITES. This is a conservation effort to assure that they never do become extinct. The proceeds from these permits and from hunting go directly back to conservation efforts, habitat preservation and anti poaching personnel… Not any part of these animals went to waste.” [sic]
Can hunting ever be done for the right reasons?
Jason Wright, from Newcastle, has hunted all his life and says hunting can be beneficial, such as when it was used to provide food for the dogs on the farm he grew up on.
“This had a two pronged effect, it fed the dogs for the cost of a bullet and got rid of rabbits and wild pigs that dug up the paddocks, which caused cows and sheep to break legs when stepping in the holes,” says Mr Wright. But he firmly disagrees with Miss Jones’ actions.
“I don’t like big game hunting because there is no purpose to it other than trophy value. It isn’t vermin control or culling,” says Mr Wright.
“Her efforts don’t help the public image of hunters because most people don’t understand many of the reasons animals need to be culled.”
Similarly Jeremy Smith, from Silverdale NSW, is another young hunter who mainly hunts on farms west of Sydney and in state forests. He mainly hunts pigs, but also wildlife foreign to Australia in effort to stop damage to farmer’s properties and live stock. “I work for a few farmers and the damages can exceed over thousands and to the tens of thousands, such as crops fencing and their animal stock,” says Mr Smith.
“The big game hunters aren’t right. I’m not for that, I don’t see the point in buying airfare tickets and paying to hunt over seas just for your own satisfaction in hunting animals in there own natural habitat.”
He explains, “It’s not just about killing for me, it’s the struggling farmers, it’s there live stock getting killed. They don’t die as quick as a bullet, they die a slow painful death due to foreign animals.”
But the fact is there are always people who are going to kill animals simply for fun.
Ben*, also a hunter from NSW, says he likes to hunt just for fun, and goes nearly once a month. “I’ve shot both feral animal and domestic pets [mine and others],” says Ben. “I think it’s okay for this girl to hunt wild game.”
When it comes to what big wildlife companies think they seem to agree that hunting is a big issue and more research is required. WIRES is an organisation dedicated to saving Australian wildlife. They told The Newsroom they have been “involved in incidents where animals have been shot by both firearms and bow and arrow.”
Although they didn’t comment on hunting in general they did say, “WIRES supports integrated pest control programs delivered by trained and qualified NPWS employees. We would also be supportive of further research into humane methods of control for introduced species.”
It’s clear hunting is an issue that not only divides people but one that people are seriously passionate about.
“It makes me sick to my stomach that people justify their murder of defenceless animals,” says Belle* from Sydney. “The only innocents in the situation are the animals and its their blood being spilled. It’s disgusting.”
As for Kendall Jones, she is sticking by her actions and still supports hunting through her Facebook posts, with her fan club offering words of praise. On Tuesday she posted 10 reasons why hunting is for conservation, but continues to cop backlash from animal lovers world-wide. It seems that there is no easy answer to this debate. – Alana Scott
Top photo from Kendall Jones’ Facebook page.
*Names have been changed.