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July 1, 2014

Woman's African safari photos draw ire on Facebook

CLEBURNE, Texas — A Texas woman’s photos from an African hunting safari posted on Facebook have provoked a range of responses — including many laced with hate and outright death threats.

Kendall Jones of Cleburne has spent the past several weeks in Africa — mainly in Zimbabwe and South Africa — hunting leopards, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, zebras and impalas, mainly using guns and bows. Several photos of Jones, 19, posing with animals she shot or tagged have vitriolic comments posted beneath them.

“I knew when I posted these pictures that there would be people for and against my Facebook page,” Jones told the Cleburne Times-Review via email. “I really am shocked at how rude many people are by name calling and swearing. I have actually had several death threats, which are going to be investigated. Online bullying and making direct threats is a crime.”

Commenters have called Jones everything from a “bloodlust-crazed sociopath” to a “stupid hick” and a “coward who enjoys killing defenseless animals.”

Someone has gone so far as to open a Stop Kendall Jones Facebook page.

Others posters have defended Jones.

“This is proof that for every person who wants to speak out negatively, you have more proponents finding your page and supporting your efforts!” Sterling Bishop wrote. “Keep on huntin’ on girl!”

Jones, who has visited Africa five times, said her latest venture has been for the purpose of filming material for a TV show she hopes to host next year. She said hunters likely care more about wildlife and conservation than many others.

“There is not a hunter out there that doesn’t care about wildlife,” she said. “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.”

One of the photos on her Facebook page that drew some particularly hateful comments shows her with a rhinoceros that had been tranquilized with a dart so a veterinarian could treat it.

“It’s hard to explain how exciting it is to be next to such a huge animal with a vet and team of helpers performing these procedures,” Jones said. “The vet cleaned out the wound really good and administered an antibiotic ointment for the leg injury and antibiotic shots. He also took blood samples and DNA samples to go into a DNA database, which helps combat illegal poaching.”

Jones said she understands that people have differing views on hunting, but wishes everyone would keep an open mind on the subject.

“I don’t let these things bother me because I understand and know what I am doing helps with wildlife conservation.” she said. “I don’t blame other people that aren’t educated on the subject and I hope, after reading and learning, people get a better understanding.”

Information for this story was reported by the Cleburne (Texas) Times-Review.

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