The support and criticism of a Texas university cheerleader who features her big game hunting adventures on Facebook has grown within the week. She recently has been responding to haters with information about how she says killing some of these creatures actually helps their species, local villages and the economy as a whole.
“Why has the southern white rhino fared better than the other species and what can we learn from this? Economics provides the answer!” Kendall Jones, a student at Texas Tech University wrote on her Facebook page. “White rhino conservation efforts were driven by South Africa, which has developed a vibrant market economy for wildlife within the last 50 years.”
She went on to explain how “this economy rests on three pillars”:
1. Recognizing and actively developing legal markets for things that people value about rhinos, such as tourist viewing and trophy hunting
2. Allowing private landowners to legally own rhinos, thereby giving them strong direct incentives to manage them responsibly
3. Enabling all landowners (private, communal or public) to retain the money they earn from selling live rhinos and rhino products, thus making rhinos a lucrative long-term investment”
The 19-year-old also posted this photo of President Theodore Roosevelt, who she said “has been labeled by many as the Father of Conservation.”
“He helped create and establish the United States Forestry Service, which would later become the National Forest Service. Roosevelt created five national parks (doubling the previously existing number); signed the landmark Antiquities Act and used its special provisions to unilaterally create 18 national monuments, including the Grand Canyon; set aside 51 federal bird sanctuaries, four national game refuges, and more than 100 million acres’ worth of national forests.
“But he was a hunter too, right? He killed the same species that hunters now chase today under a mound of anti-hunting pressure. Yet, how can it be possible that someone can love the earth, and take from the Earth in the name of conservation? For some folks, they’ll never understand. For the rest of us…we were born that way. God Bless Teddy,” Jones wrote.
While Jones has been defending her position, it does appear that at least some of the images she had previously posted from her hunts have been removed. Now missing from her Facebook page are photos of her with a dead lion and jaguar.
In an interview with the Cleburne Times Review, Jones emphasized that “there is not a hunter out there that doesn’t care about wildlife.”
“In the U.S. alone, hunting and fishing generate $87 billion a year into the economy. Much of this money goes to game management, game wardens, habitat preservation and anti poaching,” she wrote her hometown newspaper in an email.
In Zimbabwe, where she was recently hunting and posting photos of the game, Jones said the hunting industry has a positive impact on local villages.
“These people live in mud huts and have no electricity,” Jones told the newspaper. “The money derived from hunting is badly needed to help provide the bare necessities such as water and shelter.”
On Tuesday, a petition to have Facebook censor her page due to the killing of animals amassed 44,000 signatures. As of Thursday morning, it had more than 180,000 supporters.
Even the Humane Society of the United States weighed in on the issue.
“Traveling halfway around the world to shoot some of the world’s most magnificent, and threatened animals is shameful,” Nicole Paquette, vice president for wildlife protection, said in a statement. “Many of the species that Ms. Jones has killed face declining populations due to loss of habitat and poaching. Amidst this crisis, trophy hunting only adds to the threats to the survival of these iconic species and is nothing more than a thrill kill. Our affiliate, Humane Society International, works in the field to protect wildlife and prevent human-wildlife conflicts in Africa and around the world. Rather than pose for social media with these rare species, lying lifeless, Ms. Jones should support true conservation efforts to combat poaching and protect both animals and communities.”
(H/T: Daily Mail)