'My BIG V-Day present': SA trophy hunter sparks international outcry for posing with giraffe heart

25 February 2021 - 13:00
Merelize van der Merwe shot a giraffe dead and posed with its carcass and heart. File photo.
Merelize van der Merwe shot a giraffe dead and posed with its carcass and heart. File photo.
Image: 123rf/Anna Om

Local trophy hunter Merelize van der Merwe has drawn international criticism after she boasted about getting the perfect Valentine's Day gift, posing for a picture of her holding the heart of a giraffe she had just shot.

According to the Mirror UK, Van Der Merwe's husband spent over R31,000 on the hunt over the Valentine's Day weekend.

She said that it had always been her dream to hunt the animal.

“I’d waited years for my own perfect bull — the older a bull gets, the darker he gets. I love the skin and the fact it’s such an iconic animal for Africa,” she told the publication.

She showed off the kill, posting a picture of her holding the animal's heart, on Facebook.

The post drew massive backlash, including from animal rights activists.

Director of the UK branch of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), Elisa Allen, described Van der Merwe's actions to the Independent UK as bloodlust paired with a burning desire to show off”.

Taking to Facebook on Thursday, Van der Merwe defended trophy hunting, claiming it was conservation and “mafia” animal rights activists could moan all they want.

“When a hunter can look at millions of hectares of land that was once cattle farms turned back into game farms, we can be proud because if not for hunting, we wouldn't be home to 24 million head of game that roam on more than 20 million ha of agricultural land.

“In a country with 56,717,156 people, we as hunters achieved this - not animal rights activists, or the mafia as I call them. You can p**s and moan all you want, use as much vulgar language, threaten me as much as you want, but you can't say hunting isn't conservation!”

When a hunter can look at millions of hectares of land that was once cattle farms turned back into game farms we can...

Posted by Merelize van der Merwe on Wednesday, February 24, 2021