Over the past decade, many species have become completely extinct or are on the path to extinction. Increasing human encroachment on their habitats, poaching, pollution, and climate change have all played their roles in creating this sad state of affairs. Humankind is the one commonality that exists behind all these factors and sadly, we just can’t seem to learn our lesson. If you have enough money, you can pay to shoot and kill even the most endangered animals on the planet. Entire species have been wiped out to satisfy some trophy hunter’s need for excitement and fame.
Among the many species that have been entering the endangered list, giraffes haven’t been given a lot of focus in conservation efforts. While they’ve been on the endangered list for a while now, in 2018, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) placed two subspecies of giraffes on the ‘critically endangered’ list. It is that stage that comes before the animals become totally ‘extinct in the wild’. Over the past hundred years, many giraffes have died out in Guinea, Nigeria, Malawi, Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Eritrea. And now they are in more danger than ever.
At a time when the possibility of certain subspecies of giraffes in danger of becoming completely extinct looms in the foreseeable future, some people only serve to make the situation worse. Not only are giraffes losing their natural habitat to humans, but they also have to be scared of poachers and trophy hunters.
One such trophy hunter is Tess Thompson Talley. A thirty-seven-year-old from Kentucky who works in a ball bearing factory, Talley’s self-professed passion is hunting. The international community came to know about Talley and her passion when Africa Digest picked up photos she had posted online more than a year ago. In the pictures, Talley can be seen standing over the corpse of a giraffe she had killed. This rare black giraffe was an eighteen-year-old bull. Talley, while writing about the incident, wrote about how her prayers for once-in-a-lifetime dream hunt had finally been answered.
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 pic.twitter.com/hSK93DOOaz— AfricaDigest (@africlandpost) June 16, 2018
Africa Digest heavily criticized Talley’s actions and referred to her as a ‘White American savage who is partly a Neanderthal’. The twitter account also blamed the South African authorities for their ‘stupidity’ in allowing Talley to hunt down such a rare animal. The tweet went viral and activists, celebrities, and lay persons from across the world came forward to condemn her actions. Tom Kay, Jessica Worley, Debra Messing, and many others tweeted about their outrage.
Ricky Gervais, who is well known for his activism against hunting, reposted the image with the caption ‘What’s 16 feet tall and has a c**** on the back of its neck?’ Gervais also blames both the hunter and the authorities. He criticised the latter for taking money from the hunters in exchange for allowing them to shoot animals but also acknowledged the scarcity of resources available to these authorities.
Talley herself appears to be unfazed by the criticism she has received. She continues to insist that hunting is her passion and it is nothing as trivial as just a hobby. She pointed out that the authorities had been more than happy to accept her donation of 2000 lb of giraffe meat to an orphanage in the area. She compared having her picture taken with her kills to taking pictures before a monument. To her, it is all about the memories. She later posted a picture of the giraffe’s head mounted on a wall in her home.
Unfortunately, trophy hunting is still very much a legal and popular activity in South Africa. Many of the animals which have become trophies over the past decade are those which are in danger of becoming extinct. The threat of their disappearance from the planet has forced some countries like Kenya and Botswana to ban the sport and many Western nations have placed bans on the import of trophies.
Civilian activists who have been fighting against trophy hunting for years hold out hope that trophy hunting will eventually be made illegal in all parts of South Africa, but many remain pessimistic. It is a hard fight but the very existence of many animals depends on its outcome.