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Activists Want a 19-Year-Old Banned From Facebook... and Africa

Jul 02, 2014 05:23 PM EDT
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Some animal rights activists are currently calling for CEO Mark Zuckerberg to pull down hunting enthusiast Kendall Jones's Facebook page - a page that depicts the 19-year-old hunting and killing wild animals in Africa. Another petition wants the girl banned from the continent of Africa entirely. However, Kendall and her supporters claim the kills are part of legal and beneficial "green hunts" and are actually helping conservation of certain species.

Kendall Jones looks like your standard 19-year-old girl, "born and raised in the outdoors of the great State of Texas" according to her public figure Facebook page. She was a cheerleader at her old high school and even hopes to be the host of a TV show in the near future.

However, what makes Kendall different from most 19 year olds is that her Facebook page is flooded with photos of her posing with her latest kill. These professionally taken photos include the carcasses of a leopard, zebra, hippo, lion, and even an elephant.

Some conversationalists and animal lovers were left steaming after discovering Kendall's page, claiming that the photos are encouraging animal cruelty and needless hunting of endangered species.

One community petition to simply have Kendall's graphic pictures removed from Facebook has already obtained 126,500 supporters. Another petition with more than 30,000 signatures aims to have Kendall barred from entering African states ever again - although it remains unclear how exactly this could be upheld from country to country.

"She has publicly stated that she hopes to have a television hunting show," wrote Change.org petitioner Kieron Brown. "She is using endangered and helpless African animals as a stepping to further her popularity on social media platforms."

However, with self-promotion aside, Kendall argues that her work is doing a great amount of good, and does not hurt animal populations as a whole.

According to Kendall, her hunts are "fair chase" and "green hunts," which involve the hunting and killing of animals to control populations. (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : Facebook/Kendall Jones) https://www.facebook.com/kendalltakeswild/photos_stream

Commenting on a photo where the girl rests her arms and compound bow on the body of lion she shot and killed, Kendall explains that the animal had been killed within a 45,000-acre controlled plains game (the equivalent of a 70-square-mile "fair chase") and was shot to protect newborn lion cubs in the region. The lion, she explained, was an invader of the local pride's territory and was not going to be left to disrupt an already tenuous population.

"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 wrote. "Funds from a hunt like this goes partially to the government for permits but also to the farm owner as an incentive to keep and raise lions on their property."

Another photo, which has earned a significant amount of scorn, depicts Kendall posing with a rare white rhino - which is categorized as a protected and endangered species. However, according to Kendall, that rhino was no trophy kill and was in fact just tranquilized. (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : Facebook/Kendall Jones (modified))

Later, the teen and her supporters posted a second picture of the rhino, alive and well, being tended by a South African veterinarian while a camera followed Kendall's every move.

Still, some conversationalists say that even with these perfectly valid reasons for her actions, the girl isn't out of the woods just yet. Kendall did in-fact kill a white rhino in 2008 when she was 13 on a hunting trip with her father. Still, it is important to note that while protected, southern white rhinos are a recovered species. They now number about 20,000 and can be found on private ranches where their hunting is legal with a permit, according to the World Wildlife Federation.

Her most recent African safari also included the hunting and killing of an elephant which had been wounded by poacher traps. Kendall's post "excited to get some elephant meat and protein!" raised some eyebrows. She claims that the supposedly fatal wound to the animal's trunk warranted its killing to feed villagers. (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : Facebook/Kendall Jones) https://www.facebook.com/kendalltakeswild/photos_stream

More importantly, the escapades of this young trophy hunter have dragged permitted hunting everywhere into the spotlight.

Some governments and experts argue that permitted trophy hunting, no matter how tasteless some may think it is, does more good than harm.

A peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy back in 2005 details how trophy hunting actually helped promote the recovery of southern white rhino populations - a species once thought to be extinct. According to the study, the legalization of white rhino hunting in South Africa motivated private landowners to reintroduce the species onto their lands, as they could charge hefty fees to permit a hunt in a "fair chase" environment. As a result, rhino populations increased eleven-fold (to 11,000), even with a small portion being killed by hunters each year.

A similar strategy was suggested to help recover black rhino populations in 2007, and since then the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has permitted five black rhino hunts to occur in Namibia and South Africa each year. Such permits generally run between $200,000 and $300,000.

Still, some argue that while this growing trophy hunting industry is promoting animal populations, it is simultaneously enabling cruel "canned" hunting.

"The process of really capturing or raising animals and then having them in a compound where they can't run, they can't hide, they don't have a fair chance, doesn't really fit with the fair go ethos of this country let alone the broader issues of humane treatment of animals," Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt said Tuesday, after announcing that Australia would no longer be permitting the shipment of Rhino trophies into the country. The fact that this action came in the wake of the Kendall controversy is no small coincidence.

"If an Australian is going overseas, paying $40,000 for a lion and then they can't bring it back to Australia to put above their mantelpiece, that takes the incentive away," Federal Government backbencher Jason Wood told ABC. "That's why it's so important to change the laws." (Scroll to read on...)

(Photo : Wiki CC0 - Duncan Rawlinson)

Still, Wood might be wrong to assume that all most trophy hunters want is the trophy itself. In 2006, researchers from the Mpala Research Center interviewed 150 trophy hunters on their perception of conservation and 127 African tour operators on their perception of legal trophy hunters. Remarkably, the results revealed that 86 percent of all hunters prefer hunting in an area where a percentage of what they pay will be helping local communities. Nearly 50 percent also indicated that they'd be willing to pay an equivalent price for a poorer trophy if it were a problem animal that would have to be killed anyway.

The survey also revealed that most hunters find "put-and-take hunting" (aka canned hunting) - in which a hunting quarry is released onto a fenced-in property just before a hunt - abhorrent, as they aim to pay for a "fair chase." These results were published in Animal Conservation.

While many may not agree with what Kendall is doing, the aforementioned study shows that Kendall's arguments and beliefs are likely not an act. She believes her actions were acceptable and right, and many will wholeheartedly agree with her, despite public outrage.

UPDATE: As of July 2, 4 p.m. EST, several of Kendall's public figure photos as well as the "Support Kendall" facebook group page have been made private or taken down. It remains unclear who is repsonsible for these actions.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

 - follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS

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