Kendall Jones, a 19-year-old girl who posted hunting photos to Facebook, is becoming the Internet’s Viral Public Enemy #1. Since June 22, 134,000 people have signed a petition to have the girl’s page removed from the net for “the sake of the animals”.
However, the story is false by omission. No, Jones did not fly to Africa and start poaching endangered species left and right just to get her rocks off. Your first red flag should have been the fact that every news outlet emphasized that Jones is a “Texas Cheerleader” in the headline, which makes the story that much more salacious.
The Facebook page, called “Kendall Takes Wild“, is devoted to Jones’ hunting:
I grew up in the small town of Cleburne, Texas where my hunting career started. As a child I would go with my dad on all of his hunting adventures watching him on our ranch, as well as, traveling to Africa to see him take his Big 5. I took my first trip to Zimbabwe in Africa with my family in 2004 (age 9) and watched my dad bring many animals home. As badly as I wanted to shoot something I was just too small to hold the guns my dad had brought. I became fascinated with the culture over there and visited one of the elementary schools to deliver candy, coloring books and soccer balls to the under privileged children. This was an eye opening experience for me to see how other children my age lived in a third world country…
Since posting photos posing with her game, Jones’ has come under attack. People are under the impression Jones is a giant A-hole who just flies to Africa and starts poaching animals for no good reasons other than because she thinks it’s awesome. This is not the case.
On her page, Jones writes:
Ok I’m gonna explain for the 53567544th time. The rhino was a green hunt, meaning it was darted and immobilized in order to draw blood for testing, DNA profiling, microchip ping the horn and treating a massive leg injury most likely caused by lions. People try to say that lions will not attack a hippo, rhino or elephant, quiet the contrary. Lions attack and kill the young of these species. The adults try to fight the lions off and are regularly successful, but do get injuries in the process. As for the lion that I shot with my bow, it was within a 45,000 acre fence with other lions and plains game. It’s in S Africa, so yes it was within a fence, but 45,000 acres is the equivalent to 70 square miles and considered fair chase. Lions that have come in and taken over a pride, not only kick the older lion out, but will also kill all of his cubs so that the lioness will come into heat again. Controlling the male lion population is important within large fenced areas like these in order to make sure the cubs have a high survival rate.
She goes on to explain the fencing situation and the purpose for the raising of lions within the fence, then continues:
Now to the leopard, this was a free ranging leopard in Zimbabwe on communal land. The money for the permit goes to the communal council and to their village people. Within this area of approximately 250,000 acres, 107 head of cattle was killed in a single year due to leopard kills. Leopard populations have to be controlled in certain areas.
She later posted this photo with this caption:
For the lazy readers, I’ll summarize. Kendall handsomely paid the government and the farmers for the hunt, fed the community with the game, didn’t even kill some of the game during the “green hunt” (and actually helped injured animals), and she provided necessary, ordained population trimming to the local conservation efforts.
Lots of people participate in this, have always participated in this, and will continue to participate in this. Nobody flipped out when Ernest Hemingway did it, nobody flipped out when Teddy Roosevelt did it, so nobody should freak out when “Texas Cheerleader” does it.
If you’d like to participate in a similar expedition, you can literally sign the heck up at this website because it’s a gosh damn tourist experience.
So, enough is enough. It’s time to calm down. Let’s all vow to investigate a story’s source before condemning innocent cheerleaders.
Note: For those who will inevitably comment about how hunting is wrong and shouldn’t be happening at all, take that argument to the safari companies, because Jones isn’t the collective hunter demographic’s sacrifice or scapegoat. So leave ‘er alone, dangit! She’s one participant in a complex, environmentally friendly industry.