Perky Texas Tech cheerleader Kendall Jones has ignited an Internet firestorm by sharing tasteless photos of herself smiling over the corpses of enough animals (including an African lion, a zebra and a rhino) to fill Noah’s Ark – which she stalked with high-powered weaponry and blasted to smithereens. For those of us who appreciate animals for who they are and want them to be left in peace, Jones’ bloodlust is both inexplicable and revolting.
Her claim that she is somehow helping animal populations (she says she is “doing [her] part in conservation to make a difference”) is downright insulting – and as ridiculous as saying that killing humans is the way to solve world hunger. Left alone, animal populations regulate their own numbers based on the availability of food and a secure habitat (something that hunters manipulate in order to ensure that they have plenty of victims to gun down).
Hunters are responsible for wiping out entire populations of animals, including the Tasmanian tiger, the Atlas bear, the passenger pigeon and the quagga (a type of plains zebra).
We shouldn’t even deign to call trophy-seekers such as Jones “hunters”, as they barely have to walk from their Jeeps to the awaiting photo op.
“Canned hunting” outfits in Africa and elsewhere try to dress up greed under the guise of “conservation”, but they are simply expensive (and deadly) outings for blood-thirsty tourists. The impala, warthogs, buffalo, leopards, monkeys and other animals on these ranches don’t stand a chance. Many of them have been hand-raised and are accustomed to the presence of humans. Some are zoo castoffs. All are easy marks for hunters seeking a new head to mount in their study.
And since most of these ranches operate on a “no-kill, no-pay” policy, it’s in their best interests to ensure that clients get what they came for. They do this by employing guides who are familiar with the animals’ locations and habits, permitting the use of dogs and supplying feeding stations that lure unsuspecting animals to food while hunters lie in wait. The animals are practically led right to the person with the gun.
Kendall Jones' hunting images spark row
Kendall Jones' hunting images spark row
1/8 Kendall Jones
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.
2/8 Kendall Jones
Ms Jones, who claims she is “doing [her] part in conservation to make a difference”
3/8 Kendall Jones
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."
4/8 Kendall Jones
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.
5/8 Kendall Jones
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.
6/8 Kendall Jones
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.
7/8 Kendall Jones
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.
8/8 Kendall Jones
"Hunters are the biggest conservationists there are," she told the New York News, adding "we want animal populations to grow and thrive!"
True conservationists are those who pay money to keep animals alive – in the form of eco-tourism, for instance – not those who pay for the cheap thrill of taking a magnificent animal’s life.
If Jones did want to help local villagers, she should have spared herself the long plane ride and just donated the money that she spent on airfare and hunting fees. That money could have gone a long way toward building a school or a hospital or planting an orchard, any of which would have had a lasting positive impact on the local people, rather than reducing them to hunting guides for spoiled Westerners.
But it’s clear from Jones’ boasting and photographs on her Facebook page ‘KendallTakesWild’ what her real motive is.
For most of us, the idea of slaughtering animals for the sake of a cheap thrill or a blog photo is unconscionable, so it’s little wonder that Jones is now facing such massive public backlash. Just like the Tasmanian tiger whom hunters blasted into oblivion, killing animals for kicks should also be relegated to the history books.