Images of hunters celebrating their trophies often draw widespread support and widespread condemnation – something Tess Talley knows first hand. In 2017, she killed a giraffe in South Africa. In 2018, her photo of the kill went viral and prompted worldwide outrage.
Talley joined “CBS This Morning” Friday to say that she’s “absolutely” still going hunting.
“It’s a hobby, it’s something that I love to do,” she said. Talley said that the controversial kill was part of a conservation hunt, designed to manage the amount of wildlife in a given area.
“I am proud to hunt,” she said. “And I am proud of that giraffe.”
In an interview with CBS News’ Adam Yamaguchi, Talley said that she’s made decorative pillows and a gun case out of the slain giraffe, which she described as “delicious.”
“You say it’s about conservation, but the smile […] it seems like there’s a lot of pleasure in it, too, a lot of joy,” said “CBS This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil.
“You do what you love to do. It’s joy,” she responded. “If you don’t love what you do, you’re not gonna continue to do it.”
“If there’s remorse, why do it?” asked “CBS This Morning Saturday” co-host Dana Jacobson.
“Everybody thinks that the easiest part is pulling the trigger. And it’s not,” she said. “That’s the hardest part. But you gain so much respect, and so much appreciation for that animal because you know what that animal is going through. They are put here for us. We harvest them, we eat them.”
When asked why, if she cared about conservation above all else, she wouldn’t just donate the money she’d spend on a hunt to non-lethal conservation efforts, Talley said that she “would rather do what I love to do, rather than just give a lump sum of cash somewhere and not know particularly where that is going.”
“The money from conservation hunting, as you describe it, is a paltry sum compared to wildlife tourism,” Dokoupil pointed out. “So the argument isn’t the strongest. You say joy, you say you enjoy it — that I understand. The conservation part doesn’t add up for me.”
“It’s tough. It’s a science. It’s really hard. I’m not a conservationist, I’m a hunter,” she said. “So I do my part.”
“If you knew it didn’t lead to conservation, would you still do it?” he asked.
“Just knock down animals just to be knocking them down, and it not helping anything?” she responded. “No.”
When asked about the “glee” she appeared to take in killing the giraffe on social media, Talley said that “the pictures are a tradition that hunters have done long before social media. When social media came around, that’s when there was an issue.”
She added that she was “surprised” by the “crazy” backlash, which involved people showing up at her job, and calling her employer to try and get her fired. But she said she’s “absolutely” still hunting.
In a statement to CBS News, Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, said:
“Trophy hunting of giraffe shows sheer and arrogant disregard for the imperiled status of an iconic species. A 2015 estimate found that fewer than 100,000 giraffes remain in the wild in Africa, and our 2018 investigation revealed that nearly 4,000 giraffe-derived trophies were imported into the U.S. over the last decade. More than one giraffe is killed every day. There has been an overall population decline of 40 percent over the last 30 years. This is why we are pressing the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to grant our legal petition to protect the giraffe under the Endangered Species Act, and advocating for a proposal to strengthen protections for the giraffe under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Giraffes are facing a myriad of threats including poaching and habitat fragmentation. Their dire conservation status should not be further compounded by the horror of trophy hunters bent on killing them for senseless and gruesome trophies.”