On August 19, Breitbart News reported that big game hunter Aryanna Gourdin received death wishes and ridicule on social media after posting a photo that showed her standing by a giraffe she shot and killed, her bolt action rifle in the foreground. In spite of the criticism, the 12-year-old declares she will never stop hunting.
One critic called her a “murderer” and another described how they looked forward to posting a photo standing by Gourdin’s body, the way Gourdin stood by the dead giraffe.
On August 29, UK’s Mirror reported that Gourdin responded to the threats and hatred, saying, “I’m never going to stop [hunting].” She talked about how she enjoys going on hunts with her dad: “It’s something that I cherish and I enjoy and I want other people to see what I’ve been able to experience. I want other women and youth to get into the hunting experiences. It’s just awesome.”
Gourdin said that she and her father love animals, but they “also love hunting.” And she sees no contradiction in that because of the role hunting plays in conservation via population control and getting rid of the older animals so the younger ones can take their places. She added, “I would never back down from hunting.”
Proof of the conservation role hunters fill was evidenced earlier this year in Zimbabwe. On February 23, Breitbart News reported that the decline of lion hunting that followed Cecil the Lion’s death has created a situation in which the government of Zimbabwe announced it might have to shoot hundreds of lions to keep the population at the right levels. The Mirror observed that the result of the anti-hunting backlash was a lion population explosion in Zimbabwe’s Bubye Valley Conservancy. In February, there were more than 500 lions in the conservancy, exceeding the target population by 200 animals. And The New Zealand Herald reported that the numerous lions are “decimating populations of antelope, along with other animals, such as giraffes, cheetahs, leopards, and wild dogs, after the driest summer on record kept grasses low and made the small game easy targets.
Hunting keeps the predator-to-prey ratio in balance. However, even when the object of the hunt is a non-predator–a giraffe, for example–keeping the population at sustainable levels is part of conservation.
After Cecil the Lion was killed, the Associated Press pointed to the defense of big game hunting contained in Theodore Roosevelt’s African Game Trails. There, Roosevelt proudly applied the title “hunter-naturalist” to himself and said that “he and his sons’ kills included 11 elephants, 17 lions and 20 rhinos.” He wrote against mistreating animals via “game butchery,” but he simultaneously explained his opinion that opposition to hunting in general “is a sign of softness of head, not of soundness of heart.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.