Tess Thompson Talley has spoken out against public criticism and defended her kill multiple times.
As part of a hunting trophy safari trip in 2017, a hunter from Kentucky shot and killed a black giraffe in South Africa that caused a widespread uproar on the internet. Tess Thompson Talley proudly shared pictures of herself posing with the dead animal, and according to Diply, she captioned it: Prayers for my once in a lifetime dream hunt came true today! Spotted this rare black giraffe bull and stalked him for quite a while. I knew it was the one. He was over 18 years old, 4000 lbs. and was blessed to be able to get 2000 lbs. of meat from him. Following this, she faced a backlash from animal lovers online. The post has since been deleted.
The real question for Tess Thompson Talley, 38 ... in the future when giraffes are extinct, would she mind if her grandchildren are shown her name and photo as a reason why giraffes are now extinct?#ExtinctionIsForever— John Moffitt 🌊🌊🧢🧢 (@JohnRMoffitt) June 7, 2019
Who would take pride in shooting a massive slow moving (+rare) animal? Awful— Julie Alp (@cuttingkindling) June 17, 2018
Talley later responded to the criticism in an interview with Fox News last year. She claimed the black giraffe "breed is not rare in any way other than it was very old. Giraffes get darker with age." Yet, months after the killing, Talley continues to receive hate mail and threats. "It's been hell. I have encountered cameras at my work, I've received mail at my home, text messages," Talley told CBS News. She's even gotten death threats, of which one read: "Watch your back, the hunt is on. I know where you are, and I'm coming for you." Despite it all, Talley has no intentions of "[backing] down"."I'm gonna stand up for what I do, for what I believe, and everyone else that does it as well," she said. According to her, killing the animal is part of a conservation effort. When asked why she doesn't go the humane way of conservation and donate money towards fund wildlife conservation and spare an innocent animal's life, instead, she quipped saying she does so but in her own way.
Talley claims that there is a level of respect felt between a hunter and their prey. "Everybody thinks that the easiest part is pulling the trigger. And it's not," she said. "That's the hardest part. But you gain so much respect and so much appreciation for that animal because you know what that animal is going through. They are put here for us. We harvest them, we eat them." As for the giraffe she shot, Talley said it was "delicious," adding that "Not only was he beautiful and majestic, but he was good." She used the animal's skin to make a gun case and throw pillows for her home.
This is horrific.— Sodogandji (@sodog) June 17, 2018
1st. Why and how are we (#africans) allowing this? 2nd. If you pride yourself at killing animals.... how about a really fast and powerful one. A girafe ? That’s so cruel. So so cruel ...
Trophy hunters believe that their hunting helps in the long-term survival of wildlife. Corey Mason, executive director of the pro-hunting organization the Dallas Safari Club, stated: "Unfortunately there's a mischaracterization of what hunters do and hunters support. I would argue that Dallas Safari Club has funded more conservation projects than probably, you know, most of them combined that are non-hunting or anti-hunting." Nearly 80 percent of trophy hunters are Americans. In 2017, 650,000 animal "trophies" were imported into the U.S. alone raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. Mason added, "When you go on a hunt, there's different fees that come from that. If it pays, it stays."
This "if it pays, it stays" is a controversial topic in conservation groups. Advocates of the hunting community believe that placing a monetary value "on an individual animal incentivizes the safeguarding of the species and habitat." But animal rights groups disagree. Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States slammed the act of trophy hunting for sport. "It's important to have wild animals thrive, but why is the price of that this needless slaughter of these animals for their parts?" she questioned. "It diminishes what wildlife is. If they can be reduced to a chair, to a knife handle — that's no trade-off."
With the rise of trophy hunting in Africa, giraffe numbers continue to dwindle. "A 2015 estimate found that fewer than 100,000 giraffes remain in the wild in Africa, and our 2018 investigation revealed that nearly 4,000 giraffe-derived trophies were imported into the U.S. over the last decade. More than one giraffe is killed every day." "You want to see wildlife thriving in the wild, you want to see them thrive and survive on their own, not naturally selected out because of their horns or anything else," said Block. "Everyone assumes wildlife is going to be there for future generations. It's not something we can just assume is gonna be all right. It's not."
Many believe that the benefits of trophy hunting revenue are not worth it. "Of the eight African nations that we surveyed, the tourism dollars coming in was about $17 billion. Only less than 1% of that was money that was collected from trophy hunting," said Block.