LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD/CNN) — A Texas Tech cheerleader shot to the center of controversy for pictures she took next to exotic animals that she killed herself.
Tempers are flaring in response to pictures like these.
Kendall Jones’ posts say she is on a mission to conserve African wildlife.
But some aren’t so sure.
Anti-hunting activists are taking to social media to voice their disapproval, and an online petition was started to get her off Facebook.
But in one day, her page has skyrocketed to more than 60-thousand likes.
We reached out to Tim Gafford, president of Lubbock’s chapter of Safari Club International.
This group of hunters specializes in wildlife conservation.
And he says it’s not about just getting a kill.
“You don’t just go out and kill everything you see. You have a professional hunter that tells you what to do and when,” Gafford said.
Gafford says African safaris are some of the best well organized hunts and businesses in the world.
And the profit goes both ways.
“The money we raise and the money we spend go to conserve the very animals,” Gafford said.
And this isn’t a cheap hobby.
Hunts like these can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In a statement from Jones’ family, they say more than 160-thousand dollars have been spent on the trip without travel and lodging.
All staying in the villages where she’s hunting.
“We are giving money to put these kids back in school… Wild animals have killed their fathers and they’re on the streets,” Gafford said.
Kendall’s family and friends released this statement on Tuesday night:
Due to the mass amount of media inquiries regarding Kendall Jones’ recent African Safari, her family, friends, and supporters wish to issue a statement on her behalf.
First and foremost, it’s imperative to make mention that all of Kendall’s hunts in Zimbabwe and South Africa were 100% legal with proper tags and licenses awarded on a pre-approved quota by the countries officials and wildlife department.
Secondly, the tags, licenses, and fees purchased in addition to the services provided by local trackers, skinners, and assistants totaled over $160,000 USD, not including travel and/or production costs. In Zimbabwe, 70% of the country’s population is classified as poor or extremely poor. This money can provide a great deal of stimulus for the local economies in addition to the estimated $200 million annually of which hunters contribute to the overall African economy. In the most rural areas, where many of these hunts take place, a majority of the people are unemployed and depend on bartering as a way of living. We’re very proud of Kendall and Cody in not only helping to conserve these species for future generations, but also for helping contribute both money and jobs to an extremely poor area of Africa.
At this point, we are still on pace to air the content of Kendall’s hunts in early 2015. With regards to the death threats Kendall has received from various members of activist organizations, we would simply ask that these folks consider if threatening to murder a human being for 100% legal behavior makes you worthy of the freedom to express your love for animals. Although our ideologies may be differ from those making threats, we, as a family, still have a profound respect for human life and the law.
Please direct any additional requests through Kendall’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kendalltakeswild.
Family, Friends, and Supporters of Kendall Jones