The shocking 'Big Five Game' of the privileged and the rich shook the world recently; although the historical hunting challenge has been around for centuries, the world is now witnessing well-known public figures travelling to Africa and North America to take a shot at unprotected, innocent animals.
To win the Big Five Game you must hunt and kill a lion, an African elephant, a Cape Buffalo, a leopard and a white rhinoceros. These days, the environmentally conscious world knows these animals should be preserved instead of poached; the World Wide Fund For Nature claims there are about 20,000 southern white rhinos left in the world. They are considered "near threatened" by the conservation organization, but this does not stop those with enough money heading out to claim a disturbing trophy kill.
Comedian Ricky Gervais took to his Twitter to express disgust at the idea, asking his followers: “What must’ve happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal and then lie next to it smiling?” After being brought to light, the hunting tradition was placed under scrutiny as many decided which side of the lines they wanted to be on: pro-hunting or anti-hunting. It is understood that for preservation purposes and for the support of rural communities, hunting is a necessity. What isn't clear is the morality of the rich being allowed access to big game hunting areas, to kill purely for the thrill of it.
American teen Kendall Jones came under scrutiny when she posted many photos online with big game trophy kills; including a giant hippo when she was just 14-years-old. She has caused uproar with her big-grinned uploads of slaughtered game; one angered user wrote on the blonde cheerleader's wall; "(Applause) for the day your gun fails and the lion tears you apart." The 19-year-old huntress tried to silence her critics by commenting: "Well I'm here to tell you, I'm NEVER going to stop. I'm proud to hunt, proud to cheer, proud to wear makeup, and especially PROUD TO BE ME!" Only infuriating people further, the teenager began to receive death threats which prompted her to shut down the page for good.
Jones is not the only big game hunter who has been publicly named and shamed. Here are ten other well-known names that won't become the new face of PETA any time soon.
10 Donald Trump Jr. & Eric Trump
Donald Trump Jr and his younger brother Eric Trump are real estate moguls by weekday and then big game hunters at the weekend. They both get their thrills by indulging in a costly trip with a company called Hunting Legends, who are based in Zimbabwe. The price of the adventure is not available to the public, but offers a bespoke service and opportunities to freely hunt down big game.
When pictures appeared online of the brothers openly smiling next to their kills, the online community called out the pair for being "brutal, heartless killers". Some of the disturbing photos showed Don holding a knife and a sawed off tail belonging to a dead elephant, while another photo displayed them standing beside a 12'8" crocodile they had hung by a noose from a tree.
As the photographs were posted directly onto the Hunting Legends website, many believed this was all staged for publicity. Don denied this by tweeting: "Not a PR move I didn't give the pics but I have no shame about them either. I HUNT & EAT game." In a separate tweet he wrote; "I AM A HUNTER I don't hide from that". The leaked photographs are not pleasant, but despite all the scrutiny, the privileged pair insist they're proud of their big game hunts.
9 Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey came under serious scrutiny when he was named and shamed as the co-owner of a 'canned-hunting ranch' in Texas. Visitors can enjoy shooting helpless animals, such as deers, who are trapped and unable to flee from gun shots.
The ranch is spread over 34 square miles and the official website of the LP Ranch proudly claims: "In 2007, we decided it was time to expand. So, we chose to high fence the headquarters in Irion County which allows for better management and maintenance of our deer herd."
The website also brags of their high-fence hunt on their website: "We at LP Ranch pride ourselves with our whitetail deer hunts. Going on seven consecutive years, our deer have had protein and high-quality feed available year round." This is one of a thousand high-fence hunts available in the US. Animal activists were particularly perturbed as the enclosure does not allow for fair chase.
McConaughey has since had his PR team respond to the claims that he gave up his co-ownership in 2011 although there were reports that his name was still listed and his partnership was up-to-date. His nephew also weighed in on the argument by tweeting: "My Uncle Matthew, the hunting part is part of the ranch, but he is more with the cattle. That’s where his passion is." So, yes, he's still in ownership of the ranch. Nothing like family to give you up red-handed.
8 Prince Harry
In 2004, during his gap-year at a military academy, Prince Harry hunted a water buffalo and posed seemingly very pleased with himself over the carcass. It was forgotten about until the media got hold of the photo then used it to name and shame the fourth in line to the British throne.
He has often spoken publicly about how important it is to protect wildlife from extinction, and faced damaging criticism when he was reminded of this incident from almost a decade ago.
Prince Harry took down the giant beast on a hunting expedition which allowed participants to also shoot-to-kill red stag, wild deer, puma, antelope, boar and birds. Although Water buffalo is not an endangered species they are considered a 'trophy kill' and the incident left his royal aides quite red-faced. A spokesman for the Royal family refused to give comment.
7 Troy Gentry
Troy Gentry, one half of the country music duo Montgomery Gentry, lost a three-year legal battle which was launched against him by animal rights activist group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK). Gentry infuriated the group after he uploaded a video of him killing a black bear during a canned hunt.
The bear was inside an electric-fenced enclosure only an acre in size, but Gentry orchestrated the video to look as if it was a wild chase rather than an animal hunted in captivity.
The President of SHARK, Steve Hindi, commented on the act: "Troy Gentry’s actions are vile; he is a coward and a liar and he mercilessly slaughtered a beautiful animal whose only fault was that he was worth more dead to his owner than alive."
The black bear was sold to Gentry for the sole purpose of a canned kill; it is illegal to kill a bear within captivity and the musician was sentenced to three months of probation and a $15,000 fine. He also lost his right to hunt for five years.
6 Karl Malone
NBA superstar Karl Malone showed the world how much he enjoys the thrill of a hunt by taking down a black bear in the wild using just a bow and arrow. Malone, who gained a solid reputation as one of the greatest power players ever, has now turned his hand to hunting and brags about all his big kills on his personal Instagram page including Elk.
He owns a summer house near the Kenai River in Alaska where he indulges in his hobby. There are estimated to be at least 600,000 black bears in North America and 300,000 in the United States. However, the Louisiana black bear and Florida black bear are listed as a threatened species with estimated numbers at just 5,000.
5 Miranda Lambert
Country singer Miranda Lambert angered many animal lovers when she appeared on an episode of Country Boys Outdoors for the Sportsman Channel. She was given the challenge to kill an alligator so it could be made into a new purse for her. She is often pictured online killing wild animals and is a self-proclaimed proud hunter.
Quite surprisingly, the 32-year old singer runs her own charity called the MuttNation Foundation - rehoming unwanted animals into shelters before they are adopted by a new loving family. Many campaigned to get Lambert to open her eyes and realise that the animals she hunts are also in need of the same of level of compassion in order for them to survive such brutal treatment.
4 Glenn McGrath
Glenn McGrath faced a social media hate campaign after being photographed with animals he had killed as if they were trophies for the sport. The Australian cricketer posed with hyenas, buffalos and elephant tusks.
McGrath has since said he felt nothing but deep remorse and regret over the hunting trip; he lost his wife to breast cancer in 2008 and commented that this was the trigger for his actions.
He confessed; "In 2008, I participated in a hunting safari in Zimbabwe that was licensed and legal but in hindsight highly inappropriate. It was an extremely difficult time in my life and looking back I deeply regret being involved".
The comments were opposed to an interview he gave to the Sporting Shooters' Association of Australia where he said; "I'm keen to get into trophy hunting, no animal in particular, but a big safari in Africa would be great. I'd prefer to do the safari on foot, like they did in the old days and just take the camp with you, not driving around in 4WDs." Skeptics claim he changed his tune when he felt the negative backlash come his way.
3 Justin Tuck
You would not want 6 foot 5" Oakland Raiders Super Bowl Champion like Justin Tuck coming towards you with a bow and arrow; luckily, if you're not big game then you have a good chance of survival. He balances his professional football career with his personal love of hunting and has been pictured with kill such as deer, stags, water buffalo and wild boar.
When he appeared in a hunting show for Bowhunter TV, the athlete was asked if hunting was the same as taking down quarter backs. His reply was: "I’ve had opportunities to play the game at the highest level, the Super Bowl, I’ve had opportunities to get sacks and big plays at the Super Bowl. I’ve also had opportunities to hunt some of the more majestic animals that God has put on this earth. I don’t know if I could put one higher than the other, but they’re both pretty awesome." It appears Tuck is just one man who's after the adrenaline rush.
2 Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt is not afraid of speaking out about how he is a proud huntsman. He told Outdoor Life magazine during an interview: "Hunting is in my blood. My dad and uncles hunted. I became passionate about big game hunting when I moved to Utah to shoot the television series Everwood in 2003. I lived there for four years, had the time and money to really get into it and became absolutely obsessed".
His favourite animal to shoot down is Rocky Mountain Elk and is always open and honest that he doesn't always eat what he shoots down; instead he enjoys just the thrill of the kill. As his views on hunting are strong, it's no surprise that he is challenged often about his hobby but Pratt is not shy to defend the love for his hobby. He argues; "Sometimes people don’t understand and I don’t waste my breath trying to explain it. Either you get it or you don’t. But for the most part people aren’t judgmental about it. We just disagree and move on".
1 Eva Longoria
It is quite hard to imagine Eva Longoria at 5 foot 2" with a gun strapped to her back and heading off to the woods on a hunt; but the Desperate Housewives star should not be underestimated. She boldly claims: "I can skin a deer and a pig and a snake- and rabbits," she said. “I used to go target shooting all the time growing up, so I'm great with a gun; we'd shoot Coke cans and anything that exploded. I grew up hunting deer and turkey. I can skin a pig and pluck a quail; you name it, I've done it."
Longoria grew up on a ranch in Texas where she learned how to handle a shot, she has often spoken in interviews of a time when she hunted deer, turkey and wild pig as just four-years-old. We just couldn't imagine her manicured nails tearing away and skinning animals - but it's all the truth.