A Texas cheerleader has infuriated many in the online community after posting photos that show her smiling while standing over wildlife she shot in Africa.
Kendall Jones, 19, makes no apologies for her hunting hobby, and talks earnestly on her Facebook page about hunting the Big 5 game animals in Africa, which include the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and white/black rhinoceros.
“In 2008, (age 13) I took my second trip to Africa to start my Big 5 experience,” she writes on Facebook. “The first animal I ever shot was a White Rhino with a .416 Remington!! On this trip I also took some plains game, such as impala, kudu and mountain reedbuck home.”
The Texas Tech cheerleader also wrote on Facebook that she had inked a development deal in January to create a new series based on her favorite sport.
The photos have created a furor on her Facebook page.
“This is absolutely despicable. How can you kill such a majestic animal,” one poster commented on a photo Jones posted Saturday showing her smiling while posing with a lion she shot in Zimbabwe.
“Not only does killing this individual lion shows a disrespect for Africa and its iconic creature, but this one lion’s death could have many negative implications for its pride and the ecosystem,” wrote another poster.
Jones also has her supporters online, who point out the potential benefits of hunting overseas.
“Hunting tourism in Africa has brought many species back from near extinction returned mass parcels of farmland back to bush, takes poaching nearly to zero all paid for by the Hunter,” writes one poster.
Jones also addressed the controversy last Wednesday, while posting a photo of a white rhino she darted during a “green” hunt.
“While all of the ANTI Hunters were hiding behind a computer writing repulsive comments and issuing death threats to me, well I was out doing a White Rhino Green Hunt. I darted a white rhino and the Vet drew blood samples, DNA profile, cleaned out and medicated a leg wound and gave several shots of antibiotics. The Rhino woke up great and will now be a part of a DNA databank fighting against anti-poaching. Again doing my part in conservation to make a difference.”
The teen’s manager, Justin Cook, also issued a statement on behalf of Jones’s family, friends and supporters on Tuesday. “It’s imperative to make mention that all of Kendall’s hunts in Zimbabwe and South Africa were 100 percent legal with proper tags and licenses awarded on a pre-approved quota by the countries’ officials and wildlife department,” he said, adding that the cost of those fees and services provided by local trackers, skinners and assistants totaled more than $160,000.
“We’re very proud of Kendall and [her father] Cody in not only helping to conserve these species for future generations, but also for helping contribute both money and jobs to an extremely poor area of Africa.”
Cook also addressed the death threats that Jones had received. “We would simply ask that these folks consider if threatening to murder a human being for 100 percent legal behavior makes you worthy of the freedom to express your love for animals,” he said in the statement. “Although our ideologies may differ from those making threats, we, as a family, still have a profound respect for human life and the law.”