By Eliyahu Federman - Published July 14, 2014 on nypost.com. Click here for article.Kendall Jones
Texas cheerleader Kendall Jones and World Cup fan-turned-model Axelle Despiegelaere are the latest to be widely slammed for posting photos of their big-game hunting in Africa. The vitriol is silly, ignorant and sexist.
Despiegelaere, the Belgian who won a modeling contract after pictures of her World Cup cheering went viral, sparked an online fury after posting images with a hunted gazelle.
Shortly after, cosmetic giant L’Oreal terminated her modeling contract and didn’t deny that it was because of the photos.Regardless of how distasteful one finds big-game sport hunting, the demonizing of
Jones and Despiegelaere is way off base. Here’s why:
1) Their hunting was perfectly legal. As a spokesperson for Jones pointed out, “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.”
No, “legal” isn’t the same as “moral,” but attacking these young women in personal terms for lawful hunting is pointless. If you have a problem with big-game hunting, change the laws, don’t mindlessly attack individuals.
2) Hunting helps support poor local African communities. People magazine reportedhow Jones paid $160,000 in fees and services “provided by local trackers, skinners and assistants.” That money went to provide jobs, incomes and food in destitute parts of Zimbabwe and South Africa. Trophy hunting provides meat to local villagers andgenerates an estimated $200 million a year in revenue in poor countries in Africa and elsewhere.
3) African hunting helps conservation. It is poaching that poses a threat, not lawful hunting. In fact, the operators of hunting conservancies fight poaching to “protect the wildlife resources on which they depend.”
How could hunting animals benefit them? National Geographic reported how “hunting is of key importance to conservation in Africa by creating [financial] incentives to promote and retain wildlife as a land use over vast areas.”
The International Conservation Caucus Foundation documents that “private hunting operations conserve wildlife on 540,000 square miles, which is 22 percent more land mass than is found in all the national parks of Africa.”
Photo: Getting Images
Hunting can enhance wildlife populations by controlling overpopulation to ensure adequate habitat.Hunting revenue also played a direct “role in the recovery of the white rhino population,” notes Save the Rhino International. By giving land owners cold, hard reasons to provide space and habitat, hunting helps other endangered species, too.
4) Animals aren’t people. Sport hunting isn’t murder, no matter how much some detest it.
And if animals have rights, then why stop at lions? Why do cows, chickens and pigs deserve less protection?
Confinement, debeaking and other factory-farming practices amount to widespread industrialized cruelty; African animals at least roam free in the open savanna before death.
5) Hunters are often middle-aged men, but the brunt of online outrage seems directed at young attractive women like Jones, Despiegelaer, Melissa Bachman, Olivia Opre, and Sarah Palin, not the male “Duck Dynasty” types. Sure looks like sexism.
Kelly Oliver, a Vanderbilt professor who’s studied the “hunting girls” archetype,explains how “we still have issues with women and girls carrying guns and using them” because it contradicts our perceptions of women as meek nurturers and caretakers.
It’s perfectly fair to criticize sport hunting; certainly, taking pleasure in the death of animals isn’t noble. But neither is sensationalism that is void of facts or reason.
When comedian Jay Branscomb posted a Facebook picture of Steven Spielberg in front of a Triceratops dinosaur prop with the caption “disgraceful photo of recreational hunter,” the Web exploded with attacks on Spielberg for murdering an innocent animal.
Eliyahu Federman has written for the Huffington Post, USA Today, Fox News and others, including on hunting issues.