A woman is facing global backlash after she shared a photo of herself posing with the heart of a giraffe just after she slaughtered it.
Merelize van der Merwe, who runs a citrus farm in South Africa’s northern Limpopo province, uploaded the image to Facebook on February 13 and described the bloody organ as the “perfect” Valentine’s Day gift from her husband. According to the Mirror, the trophy hunter was with her husband in a game park when she fatally shot the 17-year-old animal, and she plans to use its skin as a rug.
“Ever wondered how big a giraffe’s heart is? I’m absolutely over the moon with my BIG valentines present,” van der Merwe wrote.
You can see the uncensored photo below.
The image has since amassed over 1,600 comments and sparked a wave of fury online among animal rights activists.
However, the 32-year-old doubled down on her efforts, claiming she was contributing to tourism.
Here’s what you need to know:
Van Der Merwe Said She Has Wanted to Kill a ‘Big Black Giraffe Bull’ Since 2016
According to a previous Facebook post, van der Merwe explained that she has wanted to pursue a “big black giraffe bull” since 2016, writing:
What is a trophy hunter, someone who waits years for the right animal, I set out in 2016 on a quest to hunt a big black giraffe bull but none was what I was looking for. I contacted almost everyone I knew who had bulls black and old enough to fit the bill.
In 2017 I found a bull but unfortunately one of my friends got to him first and jokingly we said we had duel custody over it.
I had but all given up hope the last 2 years, filtering through 60+ photos of bulls.
Two weeks ago a dear friend Chrisjan Bakker contacted me regarding my request for a big old bull and I couldn’t believe my eyes, BIG BLACK and 0LD, so old that he was way over his time and the owner didn’t know if he will last another 3 months!!!
The 32-year-old added that she and her husband initially planned to spend Valentine’s Day weekend in Sun City, but quickly changed their plans when they received the call from their friend regarding the giraffe sighting.
“I was literally like a little child for 2 weeks and counted down the days,” van der Merwe continued in her post. “Afterwards I was flooded with emotions as I’ve been waiting years to have this opportunity!!”
Van Der Merwe Said She Has ‘No Respect’ for Animal Rights Activists, According to the Mirror
Van der Merwe’s photos enraged animal rights activists across the globe, with many flooding her social media accounts with hate comments. Others have created online petitions — one of which has generated over 11,000 signatures — demanding that the trophy hunter be banned from Facebook.
Van der Merwe, who has killed at least 500 animals including lions, leopards and elephants, told the Mirror that her photos were intended to stir the pot among animal rights lobbyists.
“I have no respect for them – I call them the mafia,” she shared with the publication.
She also claimed on Facebook that her kill “created work for 11 people that day” and “a lot of meat for the locals.”
Van der Merwe added, “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.”