More than 250,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that South Africa deny future entry to Melissa Bachman, a big game hunter whose smiling photo with a dead lion has sparked considerable outrage.
The petition, launched by Cape Town resident Elan Burman, includes a letter addressed to Director General Mkuseli Apleni and other South African officials.
"She is an absolute contradiction to the culture of conservation this country prides itself on," Burman wrote. "Her latest Facebook post features her with a lion she has just executed and murdered in our country. As taxpayers we demand she no longer be granted access to this country and its natural resources."
According to Change.org, Burman's petition has 257,753 supporters. A Facebook group called "Stop Melissa Bachman" has more than 148,000 "likes."
"Stop the murder of wildlife for the sport," a message on the group's Facebook page reads. "Stop Melissa Bachman and people like her from pulling the trigger.
"An incredible day hunting in South Africa!" Bachman, a Minnesota native, wrote on Facebook and Twitter Nov. 1. "Stalked inside 60 yards on this beautiful male lion ... what a hunt!"
Big game hunting in Africa has long been criticized by animal rights activists, but proponents say the money hunters spend during their trips boosts the local economy, and supports conservation projects.
According to Grind TV, Bachman killed the lion during a guided hunt facilitated by the Maroi Conservancy. And according to Maroi, the hunt was perfectly legal.
“We do ethical hunting and all meat from animals hunted is distributed to the local community," a post on Maroi's Facebook page reads. "Funds generated from hunting goes towards fixing the border fence that was washed away in the 2013 floods, combating poaching, which is excessive in this area due to close proximity to Zimbabwe, and running a sustainable conservancy."
"We are not apologizing for facilitating the [Bachman] hunt," the conservancy added. "If you are not a game farmer and struggling with dying starving animals, poaching, and no fences in place to protect your animals and crop, please refrain from making negative derogatory comments."
My first Nyala in South Africa...what a beautiful place and incredible weather!! I'm loving it here... pic.twitter.com/Mg8RLlT8ur— Melissa Bachman (@MelissaBachman) October 31, 2013
Bachman did not immediately return requests seeking comment.
This isn't the first time Bachman has been the target of Internet scorn. In 2012, the National Geographic channel dropped Bachman from "Ultimate Survivor Alaska" after more than 13,000 people signed an online petition demanding her removal.
The latest wave of protests has caught the attention of several celebrities, including Ricky Gervais, who posted a photo of a living lion to Twitter on Monday.
"Would you shoot this beautiful creature for no reason other than it gave you a sick thrill?" Gervais wrote.
Would you shoot this beautiful creature for no reason other than it gave you a sick thrill? pic.twitter.com/72CFiSPEzc— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 18, 2013
- Arts & Entertainment