A trophy hunter is facing furious backlash for posing with the heart of a giraffe she had just shot – describing the bloody organ as her “perfect” Valentine’s Day present.
Merelize Van Der Merwe, 32, infuriated Facebook users when she shared the gruesome image after her “wonderful” husband spent more than $2,000 to make her dream come true at a South African game park, the Mirror reported.
“Ever wondered how big a giraffe’s heart is? I’m absolutely over the moon with my BIG valentine’s present,” Van Der Merwe, who plans to use the beast’s skin as a rug, wrote on Facebook.
The avid hunter, who incurred the wrath of animal rights activists, brushed off their complaints by insisting that killing the 17-year-old bull actually helps save threatened species, a claim refuted by conservationists.
She also insisted that such slayings contributes to tourism.
Van Der Merwe — who has killed as many as 500 animals including lions, leopards and elephants — said she posted the sickening photo to taunt the animal rights lobby.
“I have no respect for them – I call them the mafia,” she told the Mirror as she recounted the couple’s dream trip to the resort of Sun City.
A friend call to alert her that her dream kill was spotted at the game park.
“I’d waited years for my own perfect bull – the older a bull gets the darker he gets,” she told the outlet. “I love the skin and the fact it’s such an iconic animal for Africa.
“Our plans changed quickly. My wonderful husband Gerhardt knew this was my dream. I was like a child for two weeks, counting the days. Afterwards I was flooded with emotions,” she gushed.
The woman, who runs a citrus farm in Limpopo province, claimed her kill “created work for 11 people that day” and “a lot of meat for the locals,” adding that the old giraffe’s death would mean “a new bull can take over and provide new, strong genetics for the herd.”
Van Der Merwe claimed: “If hunting is banned, animals will become worthless and will disappear. Hunting has helped bring back a lot of species from the brink of extinction. The only people protecting these animals are trophy hunters.”
But Mark Jones of the Born Free Foundation told the Mirror that “trophy hunters’ claims they are concerned about wildlife conservation are highly misleading.”
“Trophy hunting is not a conservation tool, nor does it contribute significant funds to local communities,” Jones said.
A member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said: “Someone who kills another sentient being, cuts out their heart, and boasts about it fits the definition of a sociopath.
“One day, trophy hunting will be listed as a sign of a psychiatric disorder, as it should be today. It is grandiosity, serial killing, and bloodlust paired with a burning desire to show off,” Elisa Allen told the outlet.