A year has passed since seasoned hunter Tess Talley went on an African safari. She took a number of animals on what was a legal, licensed hunt, but perhaps the most memorable was an aged, aggressive bull giraffe. The bull was an estimated 18 years old and had killed at least three young, virile bulls, making him not only an ideal animal to remove but a necessary one. He himself was well past breeding age and damaging the viability of the herd. When Talley shot him, she not only supplied more than 2,000 pounds of meat for local villages and funneled money into the South African economy but furthered conservation and the survival of area giraffes.
The photo of Talley with the giraffe currently circulating shows an elderly bull with a coat blackened by age. In her hunting photo, Talley is kneeling by the bull’s shoulder gripping her bolt-action rifle in one hand and pointing to the sky with the other in a clear gesture of gratitude. Now, a year later, the photos have resurfaced courtesy of anti-hunting extremists who are heaping on personal threats and insults.
As covered repeatedly by this NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) website, threats are nothing new for hunters, whether they hunt in America or Africa. We all recall the now famous African lion called “Cecil” that three years ago became the topic of a heated international debate despite that the hunt was legal and the hunter acted legally. From firsthand experience, through the years when I have posted a hunting photo on social media it also generated promises of rape and death threats. Hunting should not be undertaken with the expectation that you, the hunter, are likely to find yourself the focus of vehement anger and hatred, but in the current animal rights extremist climate that is precisely what happens as noted in NRAHLF.org’s award winning article, “Lying about Lions: Fake News Exposed as Hunters Fight Fiction with Facts.”
Tess Talley offered the following statement to NRAHLF.org regarding the elderly bull:
“The giraffe I hunted was the South African sub-species. The numbers of his sub-species [are] actually increasing due, in part, to hunters and conservation efforts paid for in large part by big-game hunting.” Talley explained the breed is not rare and is merely darker in color because bulls become darker with age. “This giraffe was 18-plus years old and beyond breeding age yet had killed three younger bulls that would have been able to breed, causing the population of that herd to go down. Now … the younger bulls are able to breed, causing the population [to] increase. This is conservation through game management.”
As Talley explained, there are three options:
• Option 1—Let the giraffe continue terrorizing younger bulls, die naturally and waste the meat, hide and bones; the rancher, taxidermists, shippers, etc., lose income and takes away conservation funding for the rest of the herd.
• Option 2—Find someone willing to pay $100,000-plus to transport, care for and feed the giraffe for the remaining one to two years of its life. This would mean either putting him with another herd where he would continue to kill young bulls or locking him in a small, inhumane enclosed pen where he could potentially injure himself or others trying to escape.
• Option 3—Sell the hunt and earn income for conservation of the other giraffes and income for the ranch owner, trackers, skinners, taxidermist, etc., and provide high-protein mean for the community.
“I cannot speak for all or any other hunts that take place in Africa or elsewhere in the world but this was not a “canned” hunt.
“I will say one more thing on this subject for all the people wishing death or even threatening death to me,” added Talley. “This does nothing positive for your ‘movement.’ It only shows the world how lopsided your priorities are. … You people [animal rights extremists] call yourselves compassionate and caring yet some of the most vile things have been directed at me and many other women hunters.
“I get that hunting is not for everyone,” she added. “What makes this world great is the differences. But to make threats to anyone because they don’t believe the way you do is unacceptable. If it was any other belief that was different, threats and insults would be deemed hideous, however for some reason it is okay to act this way because it’s hunting.”
Talley received thousands of death threats in a matter of days. As a result, she shut down her personal Facebook page. Then, on Independence Day 2018, someone started a public Facebook page with her name on it—a page that as of the morning of July 5—one day later—had received 673 insults and threats. That does not include the thousands of toxic comments being left on the handful of posts made by the new page. One-star rating remarks include a man by the name of Ian Dunmore who posted, “This horrific thunder [expletive] deserves shooting.” A woman named Inma Triana said, “I hope you die.” Comments range from people wishing for Talley to shoot herself or to be hunted to outright threats. Name-calling and cursing are standard parts of what anti-hunting, animal rights extremists are saying to a woman they have never met.
The collective hunting community must band together and take a stand. This was a legal, licensed hunt involving a bull giraffe that needed to be culled from the herd. The countless threats and overwhelming harassment Talley is experiencing is starkly wrong.
Whether you hunt deer exclusively or participate in every season possible, you’re a hunter. Standing firm to support fellow hunters should be a given. There should be no infighting or lack of support just because it was an aged giraffe rather than a 10-point whitetail. When uninformed comments are made about hunting it takes only a moment of your time to explain how hunters help to increase animal populations—not deplete them. Taking the time to explain this and stating how hunting in Africa furthers conservation both literally and financially is critical to the future of hunting and wildlife conservation. In addition, hunting Africa not only provides gainful employment to its struggling economy but ramps up anti-poaching efforts because the animals are given monetary value. It provides meat and vital protein to hungry children.
When controversy arises, ask yourself this: Was the hunt legal and ethical? In this case the answer is a resounding yes to both questions. Talley deserves our support; our continued rights demand it.
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Editor’s Note: We American hunters are fighting a cultural war with animal rights extremists who use shame, ridicule and a mob mentality to try and end all hunting. In going on offense to protect hunting’s future, the NRA created the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum(HLF) in late 2014 to address the cultural, political, demographic and technological challenges facing hunting in the 21st century. In July 2016, the NRA HLF launched this website—NRAHLF.org—and an HLF social media network to tell the story of hunters and hunting, showcase the truth on hunting issues and confront threats to hunting on the state, national and international levels as they arise. To receive HLF social media alerts and e-newsletters, please contact NRA’s Karen Mehall Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on hunting issues specifically in Africa and how without hunting there would be no wildlife, please visit NRAHLF.org and/or check out the following sample story links: