American Hunter in Viral Photo of Slain Giraffe Is ‘Proud to Hunt’

American Hunter in Viral Photo of Slain Giraffe Is ‘Proud to Hunt’
A reticulated giraffe ambles across Africa’s plains. (

American big game hunter who posted a trophy photo in 2017 with a giraffe she’d just killed, said she is proud of it and that it tasted “delicious.”

Tess Tally, a Texas-based American big game hunter, made an appearance on CBS on June 7 and spoke out for the first time since a couple of trophy photos from that event went viral in 2018 and prompted outrage on social media.

The pictures showed her next to the body of a slain, over 4,000-pound, male “black” giraffe that she had just shot in South Africa in 2017.

During the interview, Talley said that the killing was part of a conservation hunt, which is meant to curb the overpopulation of certain species of wildlife in a given area. She showed no regrets: “It’s a hobby, it’s something that I love to do,” she said. “I am proud to hunt, and I am proud of that giraffe.”

In a since-deleted Facebook post last year, she said that the rare black giraffe was more than 18 years old and weighed over 4,000 pounds. She added that she “was blessed to be able to get 2,000 pounds of meat from him.”

During the live show, in a pre-packaged segment that was shot one week earlier at her ranch in Texas, Talley enthusiastically showed the rifle case and the pillow covers she has had made from its skin. And her friends “loved them,” she added. When asked about the black giraffe she had killed during her gaming trip to South Africa, she said, “He was delicious!”

“You say it’s about conservation, but the smile […] it seems like there’s a lot of pleasure in it, too, a lot of joy,” said “CBS This Morning” co-host Tony Dokoupil.

“You do what you love to do. It’s joy,” she responded. “If you don’t love what you do, you’re not gonna continue to do it.”

She continued, “Everybody thinks that the easiest part is pulling the trigger. And it’s not,” she said. “That’s the hardest part. But you gain so much respect and so much appreciation for that animal because you know what that animal is going through. They are put here for us. We harvest them. We eat them.”

When asked why, if she cared about conservation, she wouldn’t just donate the money she’d spend on a hunt to non-lethal conservation efforts, Talley responded that she “would rather do what I love to do, rather than just give a lump sum of cash somewhere and not know particularly where that is going.”

“It’s tough. It’s a science. It’s really hard. I’m not a conservationist, I’m a hunter,” she said. “So I do my part.”

When asked about how happy she appeared in the pictures, she said, “the pictures are a tradition that hunters have done long before social media. When social media came around, that’s when there was an issue.”

In a statement to CBS News, Kitty Block, president, and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International said: “Trophy hunting of giraffe shows sheer and arrogant disregard for the imperiled status of an iconic species. A 2015 estimate found that fewer than 100,000 giraffes remain in the wild in Africa, and our 2018 investigation revealed that nearly 4,000 giraffe-derived trophies were imported into the U.S. over the last decade. More than one giraffe is killed every day.”

Paul Babaz, president of the hunting advocacy group Safari Club International, said in an interview with CBS, “She was hunting in South Africa, and giraffes are legal to hunt in South Africa.”

Babaz claimed Talley ate some of the giraffe’s meat but handed out most of it to more than 200 local villagers, among which were children at an orphanage.

Babaz said bounty from warranted hunting provides a stimulus to make sure big game animals don’t become extinct. It actually helps support the home-grown community. He estimates the trophy fee for a giraffe at about $2,000 to $3,000 per animal.

“Without that….the poachers will come in and kill the animals indiscriminately, which is very unfortunate,” he said.

Talley claimed the South African giraffe she had killed was not a threatened species. It had dark fur, which is an indication of its advanced age. It’s a subspecies whose population is indeed up 167 percent since 1979 to more than 21,000.

In a statement, she said it was more than 18 years old and “beyond breeding age, yet had killed three younger bulls… Now that the giraffe is gone, the younger bulls are able to breed.”

The overall giraffe population, however, is in decline by as much as 40 percent. The United States imported almost 4,000 giraffe trophies for the last ten years.

Meanwhile, Talley said she was “surprised” by the “crazy” backlash, that her photos had spurred, which went from death-threats to people asking her employer to have her fired.

When asked whether she would continue hunting, she said, “absolutely!”

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