A photograph of a woman posing with the body of a black giraffe that she shot dead has caused outrage on Twitter.
Tess Thompson Talley, 37, killed the giraffe during a hunting holiday in South Africa last summer. “Prayers for my once in a lifetime dream hunt came true today! Spotted this rare black giraffe bull and stalked him for quite awhile,” Talley wrote in a since-deleted post on Facebook.
The post also said the animal was more than 18 years old, weighed 4,000lbs (about 18 stone) and yielded 2,000lbs (nine stone) of meat. On average, giraffes have a lifespan of about 25 years.
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“I’m sick with rage,” wrote one tweeter. “This waste of life #TessThompsonTalley is hunting beautiful creatures for a laugh.”
Another Twitter user urged people to “name and shame this grotesque excuse for a human being”.
Will & Grace actor Debra Messing also voiced outrage. “Tess Thompson Talley from Nippa, Kentucky is a disgusting, vile, amoral, heartless, selfish murderer,” the sitcom star wrote.
Giraffes were added to the endangered species list by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2016. Years of habitat destruction and poaching have reduced giraffe numbers by 40% over the past three decades.
Derek Lee, founder of the US-based Wild Nature Institute, has warned that both poaching and habitat encroachment urgently need to be stopped in order to save the giraffe. “These are problems everywhere for giraffes,” he told Smithsonian magazine. “You need to stop both threats.”
Joining the calls for action, Julian Fennessy, co-chair of the IUCN’s giraffe and okapi specialist group, said: “Whilst giraffes are commonly seen on safari, in the media and in zoos, people – including conservationists – are unaware that these majestic animals are undergoing a silent extinction. It is timely that we stick our neck out for the giraffe before it is too late.”
Meanwhile, Talley has defended her decision to kill the giraffe in an email to Fox News. She wrote: “The giraffe I hunted was the South African sub-species of giraffe. The numbers of this sub-species 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.”
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