"I am proud to hunt," said Tess Talley in a recent interview, a year after her photos killing a black giraffe went viral.
An American hunter who received death threats for killing a black giraffe in South Africa last year just revealed that she had no regrets about her choices. 38-year-old Tess Thompson Talley continues to be an avid hunter a year after photos of her proudly posing with her kill went viral. "I am proud to hunt," she told CBS in an interview recently. "And I am proud of that giraffe."
Talley told CBS interviewer Adam Yamaguchi that she has made decorative pillows and a gun case out of the hide of the slain giraffe. She also revealed that she'd eaten the giraffe, saying he was 'delicious.' After the photos of Talley with her trophy hunt went viral and sparked worldwide outrage, she told CBS News in a statement that she killed the giraffe to prevent it from attacking younger giraffes.
She said, "This is called conservation through game management." A year down the line, she joined CBS This Morning to speak out about the giraffe for the first time since the photos were released. The segment featuring Talley follows the hunter in camouflage gear as she hunts a wildebeest. During her chat with the CBS This Morning panel, Talley continued to insist that her hunting trips were actually helpful to animal kingdom. "We are preserving... we are managing herds, we're managing numbers of wildlife," she said.
EXCLUSIVE: Hunter Tess Talley is speaking out for the first time since her photo of a giraffe she killed in South Africa in 2017 prompted worldwide outrage.— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) June 7, 2019
In a new CBSN Originals documentary, @adamyamaguchi followed her as she tracked a wildebeest on a wildlife ranch. pic.twitter.com/94Qc52KIAg
"You do what you love to do. It's joy," the trophy hunter told co-host Tony Dokoupil, who noted that she seemed to take pleasure in hunting. "If you don't love what you do, you're not gonna continue to do it." She added, "Everybody thinks that the easiest part is pulling the trigger. And it's not. 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."
Talley also spoke about sharing her kills on social media, and the backlash she faced. She 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.
White american savage who is partly a neanderthal comes to Africa and shoot down a very rare black giraffe coutrsey of South Africa stupidity. Her name is Tess Thompson Talley. Please share pic.twitter.com/hSK93DOOaz— AfricaDigest (@africlandpost) June 16, 2018
"It's been hell. I have encountered cameras at my work, I've received mail at my home, text messages," Talley said. News website AfricLand Post first shared the photos on Twitter last year, calling Talley a "white American savage who is partly a Neanderthal." The situation was compared by many to that of Cecil the lion, the well-known Zimbabwean feline who was hunted down by a Minnesota dentist in 2015.
she kills kangaroos too pic.twitter.com/OYL8Mq3FSI— jins high note in dream glow 👀 (@socal4rmy) July 4, 2018
"Trophy hunting of giraffe shows sheer and arrogant disregard for the imperiled status of an iconic species," Kitty Block, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement to CBS News. "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."
Block added, "It's important to have wild animals thrive, but why is the price of that this needless slaughter of these animals for their parts? It diminishes what wildlife is. If they can be reduced to a chair, to a knife handle — that's no trade-off." She added that people assumed that wildlife was going to be around for future generations to cherish. "It's not something we can just assume is going to be all right. It's not."
Talley was also asked why she didn't donate the money she would spend on a hunt to non-lethal conservation efforts - if her hunts were meant for conservation, surely this made sense. She responded 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."
She added, "It's tough. It's science. It's really hard. I'm not a conservationist, I'm a hunter, so I do my part." Talley's segment was part of the CBSN Originals documentary, "Trophy Hunting: Killing or Conservation?", which can be viewed here. The hunter shared a message to her critics in the documentary, "I'm not gonna back down. I'm not gonna back down," she said. "I'm gonna stand up for what I do, for what I believe, and everyone else that does it as well."
Many people, including a few hunters, have reacted to the revelations from the documentary as well as Talley's CBS This Morning interview with fresh outrage. Some have also taken offense with CBS for giving Talley exposure and a platform. One person wrote: This isn’t conservation. This is justifying her “hobby”.