A hunting show star who used social media to share a photo of herself posing with a lion she killed in South Africa has sparked outrage among animal rights advocates who want to have her banned from returning to the country.
Melissa Bachman, host of Winchester Deadly Passion, killed the male lion during a recent guided hunt facilitated by the Maroi Conservancy in Limpopo province. (The hunt was legal.)
The photo was shared more than 1,000 times on Bachman's Facebook page, and in the past week it has circulated in the mainstream, generating harsh criticism.
According to ABC News, Cape Town resident Elan Burman began a Change.org petition requesting that the South African government prevent her from visiting.
The petition, which has gained nearly 15,000 signatures, reads: "She is an absolute contradiction to the culture of conservation this country prides itself on. As tax payers we demand she no longer be granted access to this country and its natural resources."
Big-game hunting in South Africa is big business, and part of the revenue generated through hunting helps fund conservation projects. Bachman, whose Facebook page includes photos of many other types of trophy animals, is no stranger to controversy. But the hunting celebrity enjoys lots of support.
The "Show Support for Melissa Bachman and resist anti-hunting abuse" Facebook page has nearly 8,000 followers.
The Maroi Conservancy also has been barraged with criticism. On Saturday it stated its motto, "Conservation through sustainable hunting" on its Facebook page, accompanied by a lengthy defense of its hunting program.
Part of it reads: "We do ethical hunting and all meat from animals hunted is distributed to the local community. 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."
Another segment reads: "We are not apologizing for facilitating the [Bachman] hunt. 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."
Bachman did not kill the lion on Maroi Conservancy land. Maroi merely arranged the hunt, in Zeerust in Northwest Province, through another outfitter.
–Pete Thomas, via GrindTv
–Photos showing Melissa Bachman posing with trophy lion are from her Facebook page