Facebook has removed a host of images from the profile of Kendall Jones, the 19-year-old Texan cheerleader who takes visible pleasure in posing next to the lions, elephants, leopards and hippopotamuses she has shot dead.
Ms Jones, a cheerleader at Texas Tech university, claims that by hunting the animals she is “doing [her] part in conservation to make a difference”.
After becoming the subject of widespread online criticism and two petitions intended to stop her posting the pictures, one of which now has more than 327,000 signatures, Facebook has removed the offending images.
One picture of her posing with an apparently dead animal remains. It is the image of Ms Jones grinning broadly and kneeling next to a rhinoceros. She has clarified in a comment under the picture that the animal is not dead, but “immobilised with medication”.
The comment reads: “This rhino was darted and immobilised to draw blood, DNA, micro-chipped, antibiotic shots and treated for a leg injury. It’s not dead and it’s not asleep, it’s immobilised with medication. It walked away once the procedure was done.”
Kendall Jones' hunting images spark row
Kendall Jones' hunting images spark row
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Kendall Jones, a 19-year-old Texas Tech university student, has provoked worldwide fury after posting pictures of herself smiling next to animals she hunted, including a lion, rhinoceros, antelope, leopard, elephant, zebra and hippopotamus.
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Ms Jones, who claims she is “doing [her] part in conservation to make a difference”
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The petition on AVAAZ.org asks people to sign "for the sake of all animals, especially the animals in the African region...where hunters are going for fun just to kill and animal."
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The photographs have provoked a similar response to one posted by US TV presenter Melissa Bachman who provoked controversy by posting a picture of her next to a lion she'd just "stalked and killed" in South Africa.
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Kendall Jones' critics have variously described Kendall as "sick" and "depraved" for killing the animals and boasting about it online. However, not everyone is offended. Her Facebook page has over 17,000 "likes" and frequently draws positive comments.
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Ms Jones, who made her first kill, a White Rhino on her second trip to Africa when she was 13, has also claimed that not all of the animals featured in the pictures are actually dead. Some have been tranquilized for educational use.
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Her Facebook states that she "is looking to host a TV show in January 2015," and repeatedly claims that her actions are best for the preserves and help control population numbers.
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"Hunters are the biggest conservationists there are," she told the New York News, adding "we want animal populations to grow and thrive!"
Despite the assumption that Facebook removed the images in response to this online criticism and the outcry from animal rights groups, the social network said it has removed the pictures because they instead violated its terms of service.
Facebook told Mashable that the pictures broke a rule concerning “graphic images shared for sadistic effect or to celebrate or glorify violence,” which is outlined in its community standards guide.
“We remove reported content that promotes poaching of endangered species, the sale of animals for organised fight or content that includes extreme acts of animal abuse,” a spokesperson said, adding: “The number of reports does not influence whether a piece of content is removed.”
But Ms Jones has not given up on petitioning for her right to hunt the animals under the hashtag #supportkendall. She is using her page, which is verified by Facebook, to post various pictures of wild animals overlaid with pro-hunting pieces of text.
One reads: “In 1900, there were less than 50 white rhinos remaining in the entire world. Today there are 20,000+. Rhino conservation efforts were driven by South Africa, which has developed a vibrant trophy hunting market for wildlife within the last 50 years. #SupportKendall”.
Her efforts have not stopped her receiving a deluge of negative comments on her Facebook page, even from fellow hunters. One comment, which received over 15,000 likes, reads: “Being a hunter myself I think you should eat what you hunt and respect what you kill. There is absolutely no respect in these pictures.”Reuse content