Sustainability, conservation begins with respect. Self-respect and respect for others, including animals. From her actions and her reasoning afterward, Tess Thompson Talley lacks respect.
The U.S. citizen paid money to South African authorities to track and kill a 4,000-pound elderly black giraffe for sport. Then she celebrated her trophy kill by posting her smiling, triumphant face on Facebook beside the dead animal.
It took about a year, but the social media backlash eventually came for Talley, and it has been fierce. It began with “AfricaDigest,” a Twitter page of a publication called “Africland post,” which stated on June 16: “White American savage who is partly a Neanderthal comes to Africa and shoot down a very rare black giraffe courtesy of South Africa stupidity. Her name is Tess Thompson Talley. Please share.”
The outrage gained international attention after that
Talley isn’t the only cowardly hunter who hunts big game in Africa and celebrates their kills on social media. There have been plenty of document trophy kills by women as young as 12 years old proudly displaying their “trophies” of giraffes and other African animals. In fact, there may be a market for young women and girl huntresses for reality TV and social media. Even the outrage they cause brings them attention. So those who shame these people on social media may actually be boosting their careers.
Hunting obviously has a long history and is important to our own existence as a species. Our ancestors hunted for the meat, clothing, and other articles needed for their survival. Killing large predatory animals was often done for protection. There are modern hunts in almost every culture that properly honor and respect these traditions. It’s certainly good to know where your food and clothing comes from and how your ancestors used to obtain them.
Trophy hunting is different, however. First, it costs a lot of money, so it’s an exclusive activity. Second, there is no survival imperative to the killing. It’s a sport. Third, it isn’t very sporting. It requires guides, jeeps, and other equipment. The killing instruments are high-precision, high-powered guns or bows that can hit a target at great distances. The person making the killing may never leave the vehicle. There isn’t a sporting chance for the animal. This is an activity designed in every way to be the safest possible way for a human to kill an animal. There’s nothing humane or sporting about it.
As far as trophy hunts go, giraffes may pose the least amount of risk. They are herbivores, they are not predators, and, being the largest land animal in the world, they are easy targets.
Talley argued the kill resulted in 2,000 pounds of food that fed neighboring villages. The giraffe was too old to mate. Maybe it was an outcast because of the giraffe’s advanced age. Trophy killing is a form of conversation. These reasons make it okay to kill the giraffe, is her reasoning.
All of these arguments are nonsense. The government and local entrepreneurs can easily take care of all of these needs. Trophy hunts are about easy money for governments and a handful of businesses who arrange these hunting safaris. It isn’t easy for those who pay it easy to know what pleasure they get from it, except bragging rights. It also seems to be another source of colonialism, exploiting the African continent’s bounty for vain, personal pleasure.
Conservation and sustainability begin with respect. There’s no respect for trophy hunting.