An American huntress who shot and killed a supposedly rare giraffe in South Africa is facing widespread backlash from animal rights activists. But the creature in question does not, in fact, appear to be all that rare.
Photos posted to Twitter last month by the South African media outlet Africland Post showed a woman posing next to a "rare" dead giraffe. "White American savage who is partly a Neanderthal comes to Africa and shoot down a very rare black giraffe courtesy of South Africa stupidity," the outlet declared:
White american savage who is partly a neanderthal comes to Africa and shoot down a very rare black giraffe coutrsey of South Africa stupidity. Her name is Tess Thompson Talley. Please share pic.twitter.com/hSK93DOOaz
— AfricaDigest (@africlandpost) June 16, 2018
The woman, Kentucky resident Tess Thompson Talley, went on the hunt last June and had originally posted the photos to Facebook. "Prayers for my once in a lifetime dream hunt came true today! Spotted this rare black giraffe bull and stalked him for quite a while. I knew it was the one. He was over 18 years old, 4000 lbs. and was blessed to be able to get 2000 lbs. of meat from him," she wrote on the social media platform at the time.
Though the hunt was more than a year ago, Talley has faced criticism in recent days from animal rights activists due to the Africland Post tweet, with some people saying she deserves to be abused and shamed:
Apologies if this tweet comes across as a bit intense but I'm sick with rage. This waste of life #TessThompsonTalley is hunting beautiful creatures for a laugh. Here's her Facebook https://t.co/1qmQVYT81U. Lets share it and give her as much abuse as possible! pic.twitter.com/dyinkAQoy7
— Tom Kay (@tomkaymusic) June 20, 2018
TESS THOMPSON TALLEY.
Where is the fun in killing such a beautiful animal. Why do human beings think it's acceptable to go around killing innocent beautiful creatures, FOR FUN.
Disgraceful name and shame this grotesque excuse for a human being#Tessthompsontalley pic.twitter.com/QjUXWsv8c2
— Jessica Worley (@PinkLunatic1994) June 29, 2018
Actress Debra Messing even said on Twitter that Talley is "a disgusting, vile, amoral, heartless, selfish murderer."
Talley has defended herself from the critics, telling Fox News that the breed of giraffe she killed was far from endangered. "The giraffe I hunted was the South African subspecies of giraffe. The numbers of this subspecies is actually increasing due, in part, to hunters and conservation efforts paid for in large part by big game hunting. The breed is not rare in any way other than it was very old. Giraffes get darker with age," Talley said.
She also claimed that the 18-year-old giraffe she killed was not able to breed and had killed three younger giraffes, which would mean its actions were actually decreasing the population of the subspecies.
Julian Fennessy, co-founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, seems to agree with Talley. "The giraffe in the photo is of the South African species, which are not rare—they're increasing in the wild," Fennessy tells Yahoo. "Legal hunting of giraffe is not a reason for their decline, despite the moral and ethical side of it which is a different story."
This is not the first time an American trophy hunter has come under fire for his or her legal exploits in Africa. Recall Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, who received global criticism for killing a lion named Cecil during a 2015 trip to Zimbabwe.
Palmer's case is somewhat different in that the the lion in question was indeed rare. Still, it's worth asking: Is it ever acceptable to hunt endangered animals?
Reason's Nick Gillepsie thinks it is. "One thing that we know that helps endangered animals more than endangered species lists," Gillepsie said in 2011, "is actually giving people ownership rights over animals":
"In a libertarian society," he continued, "there would be ownership of more types of animals, and there would be more types of animals." Ownership would encourage conservation, but it wouldn't end hunting. Not only would people "be able to hunt and eat those endangered animals," but they could also "prepare them with an absinthe sauce, or a heroin sauce, or a cocaine sauce, and the world would be a better place."