Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are both a blessing as well as a curse. They allow you to share your hunting experiences with your friends and families across the globe. However, they are also popular platforms for the animal activists to attack and harass hunting community and take the conversation through hunting out and humanise the animals to create emotions. It is unfortunate that far too many hunters give animal activists the ammunition to use against them in the form of ill-advised social media attack.
The Cecil the Lion hunt is just one of the the latest in a string of incidents of Social Media being used to attack hunters. For example, Rebecca Francis was subjected to death threats and other forms of cyberbullying after Ricky Gervais attacked her on Twitter over photos with a giraffe she legally hunted in Africa.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Unfortunately, while there are ways to reduce your exposure on social media platforms, there is no completely foolproof way to protect yourself from attacks, even if you don’t have any social media accounts. I have had to de-friend numerous “so called friends” sue to the abuse I was receiving on photos I posted of my own personal hunts (Have a read on on of my previous blogs on Why I Hunt).
It is easier than ever to spread photographs due to digital cameras/smartphones and Social Media. While this is often a good thing, it really makes the old adage about not taking any photos that you wouldn’t be 100% comfortable having appear on the front page of the New York Times even more true. When taking trophy photos, ensure that you are doing your utmost to be respectful to the animal in the photos and don’t take or share any photos that would embarrass you later or the hunting community as a whole. You will find that your professional hunter will spend allot of time taking photos and making sure that this is done right as this will also be part of the memories of your hunt.
When posting certain animals, exercise extreme caution. Photos of some animals, like big cats (lion, leopard etc.) giraffes elephants and rhino just to name a few, seem to provoke more virulent reactions from animal activists than photos of impala, eland and blue wildebeest. Although there is nothing wrong with legally hunting these animals and the posting of photos of your hunt on social media platforms, you should do so knowing that, you may be a target for attacks by animal activists.
Most animal activists engaging in harassment and personal attacks on social media aren’t interested in debating the pros and cons of hunting. Mark Twain said it best “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference”. Even though it may feel good, I don’t recommend engaging with them in conversation, trying to reason with them, or retaliating against them. It’s usually not worth your time and it may even further inflame the situation.
Remain calm and don’t let them goad you into doing something stupid, which is exactly what they want. Instead, delete the comments in question, block or ban the offender, and move on with your life.
In this day and age, hunters are under a microscope from those who are opposed to hunting. For this reason, it is very important that we put our best foot forward and avoid creating situations that make hunters look bad.
By some or any of the above advice, you will go a long way towards keeping your hunting safari from turning into a nightmare and, you’ll do good things for other hunters and the industry as a whole as well.
PH, Adriaan Wepener