Kendall Jones: cheerleader defends 'sick' hunting photos
Is 19-year-old Texan's hunt for lions, leopards and elephants in Africa a 'thrill kill' or just 'fair game'?
Kendall Jones, a 19-year-old Texan cheerleader, has hit back at critics who described her as "sick" and "depraved" for killing African big game and boasting about it online.
Jones has posted images on Facebook of herself posing with elephants, hippos, leopards and lions that she killed across Africa, sparking outrage from thousands of people online
More than 180,000 people have signed a petition urging Facebook to take down the photos, while more than 90,000 people signed a separate petition calling for her to be banned from Africa altogether. The teenager has since hidden the pictures from public view.
According to Kendall, she takes part in "fair game" hunts, which involve the killing of animals to control populations. Her supporters say that paying to legally hunt big game gives local business people a financial incentive to keep the animal population healthy and breeding.
The Texas Tech University student told her local newspaper, the Cleburne Times Review, that the money for hunting permits helps fund local schools and water wells, the animal meat gives protein to local villagers and that hunting can also prevent livestock damage.
Jones, who hopes to host a television show next year, told the newspaper: "There is not a hunter out there that doesn't care about wildlife."
Writing in The Independent, Mimi Bekhechi says the idea that hunting helps the animals is "as ridiculous as saying that killing humans is the way to solve world hunger".
Left alone, animal populations regulate their own numbers based on the availability of food and a secure habitat, she says, something that hunters manipulate in order to ensure that they have plenty of victims to gun down.
"If Jones did want to help local villagers, she should have spared herself the long plane ride and just donated the money that she spent on airfare and hunting fees," says Bekhechi.
Speaking to the Dallas Morning News, America's Humane Society has described Jones's actions as "nothing more than a thrill kill" and urged her to support "true conservation efforts to combat poaching and protect both animals and communities".
The outcry over Jones's photos comes just six months after Melissa Bachman, the US hunter and TV presenter, caused worldwide outrage when pictures emerged of her posing with a lion she had killed in Limpopo.