Actor, comedian and animal rights activist Ricky Gervais has been slandering the hunting community and especially women hunters for some time. Using his popularity, Gervais uses social media to promote uneducated opinions which draw on people’s emotions rather than rational thinking. Gervais tends to target women and in this case Rebecca Francis. When Rebecca posed for a picture with a giraffe that she harvested, Gervais led social media attacks which resulted in droves of anti-hunters sending death threats to Rebecca and her family.
Hunters and huntresses alike have global support from the hunting community. Presenting the facts associated with the management of wildlife by true conservationists like Rebecca Francis is paramount to ensuring a healthy future for wildlife populations. Recent articles such as The Hypocrisy of Ricky Gervais Anti-Hunting Crusade help expose some of the facts associated with negating these uneducated attempts by anti-hunters to save wildlife. Huntergreen.org was recently able to interview famous huntress Rebecca Francis to get the background and facts of the controversial conservation effort in which she participated in Africa.
When asked, “What were you doing in Africa at the time when you killed the giraffe and what are the facts surrounding the harvest?” Rebecca’s education of wildlife conservation as a hunter, allowed her to elaborate this concise response.
“I was on a bow hunting safari in 2010 with Rafiki Safaris. I had never really had a desire to kill a giraffe before. But when I was approached with the situation of this particular giraffe, I decided it was something I wanted to do. Each game farm in South Africa has its own ecosystem that needs to be managed and balanced. On this particular farm, this old bull was past his reproductive years and had been replaced in his tower or herd by a younger bull. Once an animal is past his prime or reproductive years, he is now taking habitat from the younger, healthier animals on the farm. Each farm can only sustain a certain number of animals. Because of this, I was given the opportunity to hunt the beautiful old bull. Once an animal is no longer useful to the growth of a population, it is hunted. This applies to all animals whether it is a giraffe, zebra, impala, or elephant. It is better for an old animal to be hunted and harvested for the utilization of his meat to the local people, as well as the economy of the country than it is to let the giraffe go to waste and feed the predators. Every drop of the animal in South Africa is used. In fact, I dare say that they utilize more of the animal than we as hunters do in the U.S. They use the bones, the tail, the guts, and ALL of the meat. Farms are set up this way in order for populations to flourish. Once the giraffe was down, there were local families on the farm to take some of the meat. The farmer also sold some of the meat to the local butcher, which fuels the economy. The farmer made money on the animal to further the development and conservation of his particular farm. It is a benefit to everyone, especially the animal who would not have a monetary value without hunting.”
You said it was a farm, can you elaborate on what that means in Africa?
“There is no public land in South Africa. It is set up much like Texas. They refer to the properties as game farms. The average game farm is around 3000 acres, so the hunting can still be very difficult. I hunted the giraffe for two days before I got him. Without fences for protection of the wildlife, there would be no game left.”
Did you hunt any other species while on this safari?
“I got a zebra, blue wildebeest, and blesbok as well. All were taken with my bow. This entire hunt was filmed and aired on TV in 2011.”
After hearing the facts associated with the conservational necessity of her Giraffe hunt, Rebecca gave Huntergreen.org a view into her perspective of Ricky Gervais’ social media attacks.
How did Ricky Gervais’ Twitter post affect you?
“Even after all of the attacks, death threats, intimidations, and worldwide misunderstanding of the concept of hunting….. I am proud that I hunted the giraffe. I will not apologize for something that I KNOW was a good thing. I realize it is hard for some people to understand the necessity of hunting. After Ricky Gervais’s publicity stunt, I am more determined than ever to get out there and educate people about hunting’s role in conservation. My belief and passion for hunting is stronger than ever. Sure the death threats and attacks get to me every so often, but I see it for what it is. I realize where the attacks are coming from. That is exactly why it is more important than ever that all hunters make every effort possible to educate the public. Most logical and educated people that are against hunting have simply not been exposed to the facts. Once they are given all the actual facts and not the made up fairytale that the anti’s preach, they recognize and understand the necessity of hunting.”
If you could say something to Ricky Gervais what would it be?
“Actually, I don’t have anything to say to Ricky Gervais. There is no point in engaging in a conversation with someone so biased and unwilling to look at the proven facts. I used to really like him as an actor, but after seeing how foul mouthed and ignorant he is, I lost all respect for him. He is obviously being compensated for his extreme position in the anti-hunting world. If he took five minutes to look at the concrete facts, he would realize how misinformed he and his followers are. Sadly, he will never do that because his income and desperate need for the spotlight is far more valuable to him than the actual protection of wildlife. Hunters put their money where their mouth is. People like Ricky keep the money for themselves.”
Will you hunt Africa again?
“Absolutely! I have been back to Africa and hunted since the whole Ricky Gervais scandal. I killed a beautiful sable with my bow in June. Then I returned to South Africa again in July and was able to eat some of the sable sausage that was made from my harvest. I just recently returned from hunting a hippo in Mozambique. Hunting that hippo was a life changing experience for me. Within minutes of the hippo being killed, there were villagers arriving with buckets, machetes, and knives to take the hippo back to the village. The women were dancing and singing in celebration for this meat. They were shaking my hand and thanking me. One woman kissed me as she emphatically thanked me for this animal. I couldn’t help but realize how fortunate we are to have access to endless food. The anti’s make idol threats and call vulgar names from behind a computer screen while they eat cheetos while wearing designer clothing, in a heated or cooled home with light, water, and bottomless amounts of food. I challenge them to travel to one of these remote villages where the women still gather water every morning with no shoes, cook over a fire, wear the same torn and tattered clothing day in and day out, and live in a mud hut. Let’s go ask them if they think hunting is important.”
Do you think people will ever become enlightened on the value of hunting to Africa?
“I certainly hope so. Last month Kerry Howley from New York Magazine traveled with me to South Africa to do a story about conservation in hunting. When she first saw the picture of the giraffe, she was, in her words, “appalled”. Once she took the time to research the story of what happened and why, she gained an understanding of the necessity of hunting. She will never hunt, but she can see that without hunting the animals in South Africa, the animals would lose their monetary value and the population would be drastically reduced like in Kenya and Botswana.”
What does the term trophy hunting mean to you?
“A trophy is something that serves as evidence of a victory. A trophy can mean different things to different people. For me, every animal I take is a trophy in my eyes. Each of my “trophies” carry with it lessons, experiences, and incredible memories. When I look at one of my animals hanging on my wall, or any of the pictures in my photo albums, I relive the experience. That is priceless to me. A trophy is not about size or age. My first buck was a spike and it is one of my most cherished trophies”
As can be seen from this Interview, Rebecca Francis is certainly a conservationist in every sense of the word. Her passion for environmental stewardship and educating people on the merit of hunting as a conservation tool is something that social media attacks cannot take away. The level of professionalism from Rebecca and many other hunters who are attacked through social media shows the ability of hunters/conservationists to rise above uneducated emotional assaults and continue to promote sound management and conservation practices.
Rebecca Francis, Melissa Bachman, Kendall Jones and Eva Shockey are just a few professional hunters that have experienced this level of ignorance from anti-hunting groups. These women, who represent the fastest growing demographic in the hunting community, continue to promote the efficacy of hunting as part of wildlife conservation, despite opposition. Backed by science and fueled by passion, the hunting community will not apologize or bow to hypocritical, uneducated groups and people like Ricky Gervais.