Giraffes gunned down for family holiday ' fun '
january 17, 2011
Holiday horror ... families like this one pay tens of thousands to shoot dead giraffes on legal hunts
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Giraffes gunned down for family holiday 'fun'
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By BEN JACKSON, Environment Editor
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A FAMILY poses for a happy holiday snap - standing proudly beside the giraffe they have just shot dead for sport.
Tourists like these are paying tens of thousands of pounds to legally hunt giraffe, the elegant, gentle giants of the animal kingdom.
Many take the animals' heads home as a sick trophy of their African "adventure".
Majestic ... a giraffe
Giraffe expert Dr Julian Fennessey said: "Some come from Britain but the big majority are from North America, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia.
"Some hunters just like to have photos taken next to the dead giraffe.
"But others pay taxidermists to mount the head so they can take them home as a souvenir. Or they might want to take the skin."
The hunters pay up to £10,000 for the giraffe-hunting expeditions, which target the larger males.
Safari clubs and game reserves ask for a £1,500 trophy fee and add £1,000 a day for guides and trackers.
The giraffe population has nearly halved since 1988 — falling from more than 140,000 to fewer than 80,000.
They are now thought to be extinct in places such as Angola, Mali and Nigeria.
But in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe it is still legal to hunt them.
Joe Duckworth, of The League Against Cruel Sports, said: "It is immensely selfish to kill these animals.
Hunt fan ... and victim
"It beggars belief some people find it acceptable to kill them to have their picture with the dead animal."
But the owner of one South African hunting firm, who refused to be named, defended the killings.
The boss said: "These are legal hunts, by professionals on private land.
"There will always be emotion from people who are not hunters when they see dead animals, but these are very regulated practises. Rhino and other animals have been saved through conservation and the most money for conservation is generated from hunting."
Sick trophy ... hunt pals
Dr Fennessy, of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, has controversially argued in favour of hunting.
He said: "In the countries where you can hunt legally, the populations are increasing but across Africa the numbers are dropping.
"It shows that if properly managed, the hunting can be sustainable."
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