Giraffe Hunter Tess Thompson Talley: American Woman Faces Outrage After Taking Photo With 'Rare' Slain Animal

Toy, a 10-day-old female giraffe named after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai's song "Toy", winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, is seen with its mother Laila in their pen at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo, May 21, 2018. Images of an American trophy hunter posing next to a dead giraffe has caused enormous backlash online. Reuters

Images of an American trophy hunter proudly posing next to a black giraffe that she had shot and killed in South Africa have cause a flurry of outrage online, a year after they were originally posted.

In the photos, a woman identified as Tess Thompson Talley, 37, of Kentucky, can be seen standing and sitting next to the slain animal while carrying her rifle. "White american savage who is partly a neanderthal comes to Africa and shoot down a very rare black giraffe coutrsey of South Africa stupidity," the Twitter account Africa Digest wrote alongside the images.

At the time of publication, the early June post had been retweeted more than 44,000 times and received over 26,000 likes.

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

— AfricaDigest (@africlandpost) June 16, 2018

In the comments section, thousands of people expressed their anger at Talley's actions and the controversial practice. "Why do these murderers think they did something cool? Something they can be proud of?" one user, identified as Interned Baby, wrote. "She used a gun to shoot an animal that can't get away very quickly from range and doesn't have its own gun. How is that even sport? I really hope people rot in hell for what they do to animals."

Another added: "It's actually heartbreaking this is allowed to continue. Not only do I have no respect for this woman, I have utter contempt for her, it was never her giraffe to murder in the first place." Thompson also drew the ire of numerous celeberties, including actor and comedian Ricky Gervais and musician Moby.

Thompson was not without her defenders, however. Numerous users pointed out that trophy hunting is legal in many African countries, including Tanzania, Namibia and South Africa. "What rubbish. She is a hunter. We allow and indeed encourage hunting as an important tourist activity. And on top of which you play the race card. This is virtue signalling, not social commentary," Stephen Louw wrote.

Trophy-hunting is not only legal in many places—it is a global, $2 billion industry and, despite backlash in some countries, shows no signs of slowing down. A 2016 report from the International Fund for Animal Welfare showed that as many as 1.7 million "trophies" were traded between nations between 2004 and 2014, 200,000 of which came from threatened species. In South Africa, where the incident took place, elephants, buffalos and even lions can be hunted, reported USA Today.

Trophy hunting advocates argue that the proceeds from the practice provides funds to support local communities and conservation efforts. However, critics are equally quick to label the procedure as cruel and detrimental to the protection of threatened species.

The U.S. accounts for 71% of the import demand, a figure approximately 15 times higher than the next highest nations Germany and Spain. Conservation groups have banded together in recent months to lobby for the Trump administration to eradicate import permits for South African lions.

Talley originally posted the images to social media last year after completing a South African hunting trip. "Prayers for my once in a lifetime dream hunt came true today," she wrote in the post that has since been deleted or made private. "Spotted this rare black giraffe bull and stalked him for quite awhile. I knew it was the one. He was over 18 years old, 4,000 lbs and was blessed to be able to get 2,000 lbs of meat from him."

The images went largely unnoticed until it was shared on Twitter by Africa Digest in June.

In an statement to Fox News, Talley said the giraffe was not a rare breed, despite boasting that it was a "rare black giraffe bull" when she first shared the photo in 2017. She also claimed that the giraffe was too old to breed and had killed three younger bulls who were able to breed. "This is called conservation through game management," she wrote, pointing out that her practice was not a "canned" hunt.

Paul Rose, from the University of Exeter's Center for Research in Animal Behavior, confirmed that the giraffe pictured with Talley was not particularly rare or a black giraffe. "[Black giraffes not] not a specific species or subspecies of giraffe," he told Newsweek. "This is an adult bull giraffe. And from the pattern of the spots, it looks like a Cape giraffe (one of the nine subspecies). Male giraffes get darker as they age, and some can end up with black or very dark brown patches."

The South African giraffe, otherwise known as Cape giraffes, are a species native to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In 2016, their wild population was estimated at 31,500. That same year, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature transferred the species from "Least Concern" to "Vulnerable" on its Red List of Threatened Species report, which means the animal could face extinction in the medium-term if no preventative measures are taken.

Nick Weston, Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, dismissed Talley's defenses and said, "trophy hunting is a disease and it's time it's eradicated before it's too late."

"It beggars belief that there are still people out there who like to kill animals for fun, let alone pose with the corpse of their victim," he told Newsweek. "Many trophy hunters operate under the false premise that trophy hunting is good for conservation, when all they are doing is lining the pockets of businessmen and corrupt officials."

Talley did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

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