"There's no disrespect for the animal," says hunter in viral slain giraffe photo

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By: Jim Axelrod | CBS News
June 7, 2019

American hunter Tess Talley became a target of global outrage after posting a picture of a giraffe she'd killed. Now she's speaking about the hunt for the first time.

Talley paid thousands of dollars to bag a wildebeest at a hunting ground in Texas. But it's the photo she took of a giraffe she killed two years ago in South Africa that put her in the crosshairs when it went viral last summer. She showed CBSN Originals some of the angry messages she received since the photo hit social media. But she said taking photos "honor our animals."

"I mean it's what we've always done. There's no disrespect for the animal," Talley said.

At least 67 countries allow big game hunting and it's thought up to 80% of trophy hunters are American. The U.S. imports more wildlife trophies than any other country.

"I know where my meat has come from. I'm strong enough to harvest it myself," Talley said.

Talley said hunters like her are helping to conserve wildlife by removing males past the breeding age still vital enough to kill rival males that could reproduce. But critics say the benefits of trophy hunting which brings in more than $215 million a year is a fraction of tourism revenues, which includes safaris.

"They're not driven by this to be conservationists. If they wanted to be a good conservationist they don't have to kill the animal to do it," said Kitty Block, CEO of The Humane Society.