For the last hour, I’ve been unable to scrape an image from my mind — a young, pretty, blonde woman wearing a camo T-shirt, her tan legs straddling the dead body of a beautiful, majestic lion. She’s pulling his head up so that the person taking the photo can get a good shot of his lifeless face, which stands in stark contrast to her aggressively proud smile. Her name is Kendall Jones and when the 19-year-old isn’t a student and cheerleader at Texas Tech, she’s hunting rare animals in countries like Zimbabwe. The picture I described is just one of many photos posted to her public Facebook page, Kendall Takes Wild, which feature the proud hunter posing with all of the animals she has killed for sport. Kendall hopes to turn her love of hunting into a television show. I’ll be honest: I fucking hate her.
Look, I eat meat. I try to do so consciously, buying meat that is hormone-free, farm-raised, grass-fed, cage-free, etc. etc. etc. I am not 100 percent against hunting and in fact think there’s something to be said for people who look their next meal in the eye before taking its life. But that’s not what Jones (and her ilk) are doing. While Kendall may sometimes eat the animals she hunts — antelope meat is apparently a new fave — putting food on the table is not her purpose. Jones has been going to Africa with her family since she was 13 with the goal of killing nature’s most incredible creatures, some of them rare, for fun. Her first kill was a rare African white rhino — there are only around 20,000 on the planet — the first notch on her belt in her quest to kill the Big 5 African game animals (rhino, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and lion). She succeeded (for the first time, that is) the following year.
That she then posts gleeful photos manhandling her prey on Facebook — in pursuit of a television career! — is so grotesque, I legitimately felt nauseous clicking through them. And I’m not alone: over 40,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Facebook remove her page, and there’s also Change.org petition demanding that Jones be banned from entering any African state. But Jones still has her fans — 12,000 of them in fact. The replies to posts reflect the, ahem, mixed response she’s received from the big game hunting community, animal rights activists and, you know, average people like myself who find Kendall’s graphic kill photos to be disturbing and heartbreaking.
Jones claims that she’s some sort of big game “conservationist,” based on some sort of bizarre “supply and demand” model, where, as The New York Daily News explained it, “these rare beasts’ value to hunters is the incentive for animal keepers to maintain the population.” Jones has also written that, for example, controlling the male lion population is important so they don’t kill the younger cubs, and that some of the money that big game hunters spend to go on these hunts in Africa ends up going to the local population. Because this is about helping all the Africans, you guys. Please. One look at any of Jones’ photos makes it clear that those are all just excuses. This young woman loves killing animals. Lions, elephants, rhinos, antelopes, cheetahs, you name it, she’s killed it, straddled it, and said “Cheese!” And now she hopes to use those animals as her ticket to reality TV stardom.