A South African woman is facing internet backlash after she posted a photo of herself holding the heart of a giraffe that she had killed at Sun City resort.
Trophy hunter Merelize Van Der Merwe said that her husband paid over $2000 to allow her to hunt an adult giraffe on Valentine’s Day, the New York Post reports. Van Der Merwe said she had waited years to find an older male giraffe to kill, hoping to find one with the distinctly dark fur of old giraffes.
“I’d waited years for my own perfect bull – the older a bull gets the darker he gets,” she told The Mirror. “I love the skin and the fact it’s such an iconic animal for Africa.”
After she posted photos of herself holding the slain giraffe’s massive heart on Facebook, animal rights activists and other people who don’t believe in the practice of trophy hunting swarmed.
“I have no respect for them – I call them the mafia,” she said of the online mob, before claiming that trophy hunting expenses are the only thing conserving endangered and threatened species in Africa. “If hunting is banned, animals will become worthless and will disappear. Hunting has helped bring back a lot of species from the brink of extinction. The only people protecting these animals are trophy hunters.”
Actual conservationists pushed back on Van Der Merwe’s claims. Mark Jones of the Born Free Foundation told the British tabloid that trophy hunters are intentionally misleading people when they cite jobs and conservation to cover for their hobby.
“Trophy hunting is not a conservation tool, nor does it contribute significant funds to local communities,” Jones said.
Check out reactions to Van Der Merwe’s horrific image below.