New York: A US hunter has come under criticism after pictures taken in South Africa of her posing with a dead giraffe went viral, according to a BBC News report.Images of the woman, identified as Tess Thompson Talley, posted on the AfricaDigest Twitter account last month have been retweeted thousands of times.
It described her as a "white American savage" and called on people to unite to protect wildlife.
But Ms Talley has defended the killing in a statement quoted by CBS News.She said the trophy kill was actually helping conservation, because by killing the old, male giraffe, she had prevented it from attacking younger giraffes.
"Now that the giraffe is gone, the younger bulls are able to breed. This is called conservation through game management," her statement adds.Ms Talley hunted the giraffe, which can reportedly provide about 2,000lb (907kg) of meat, last year.
USA Today quotes a deleted post on Facebook where she said: "Prayers for my once in a lifetime dream hunt came true today! Spotted this rare black giraffe bull and stalked him for quite awhile."There is no separate black giraffe species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Hollywood actress Debra Messing is among those on social media to have questioned why it was necessary to kill an animal "for fun".
British comedian Ricky Gervais also mocked Ms Talley's decision to hunt the giraffe in a tweet.
Trophy hunting, and related activities, have become controversial issues in South Africa where they are thought to earn the country $2bn (?1.5bn) a year.
Environmentalists worry about the impact on conservation and bio-diversity as well as the ethics of the business.The IUCN classifies the giraffe as "vulnerable", but notes that in southern Africa its population is rising because eco-tourism is increasing the number of privately-owned nature reserves where giraffes are among the species expected to be seen.
Trophy hunters have come under criticism before: In 2015 another American hunter, Rebecca Francis, was pictured smiling as she lay next to a dead giraffe. In the same year the killing of Cecil the lion just outside Zimbabwe's protected Hwange National Park made headline news around the world.(UNI)