Kendall Jones, a 19-year-old Texas Tech cheerleader and aspiring TV star, has a thing for trophy hunting in Africa. She's been making safari trips to Zimbabwe and South Africa since she was 13, and her Facebook page, where she posts pictures of herself with dead animals, has almost 18,000 likes. Animal rights activists are pissed.
Her page is a mix of photos of her with animals she's killed and hunting memes.
A typical comment on her page: "You are absolute scum. I hope a gorgeous African animal takes its own revenge on you one day for all the beautiful souls you have shot."
But Jones says she's a conservationist, and there's an argument to be made that she is. According to a 2007 study published in National Geographic, "trophy hunting can play an essential role in the conservation of African wildlife." Basically, since trophy hunters have to pay for the rights to shoot big game, there are financial incentives to maintain the land these animals live on. From National Geographic:
In the 23 African countries that allow sport hunting, 18,500 tourists pay over $200 million a year to hunt lions, leopards, elephants, warthogs, water buffalo, impala, and rhinos.
Private hunting operations in these countries control more than 540,000 square miles of land ... That's 22 percent more land than is protected by national parks.
Jones has tried to make this argument herself, writing, "How would farmers be able to afford monthly feed and vet bills (over $15,000 a month) if there was no value on the animals? Come on people think about these things."
That hasn't stopped animal lovers from making change.org petitions against her. Jones has been able to cash in on the controversy, however — according to her page, she's signed a development deal for a show on the Sportsman Channel.