A hunter from South Africa has posed with a giraffe’s heart after her husband paid for her to shoot the animal as a Valentine’s Day gift.
Merelize Van Der Merwe, 32, from South Africa’s Limpopo province, shot and killed the 17-year-old bull giraffe on February 13 in the north of the country.
She then posed with the animal’s heart and posted the grisly images to Facebook, boasting that she was ‘over the moon’ with her present.
Van Der Merwe, a mother-of-one who has been hunting since age five, wrote: ‘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 black bulls 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 dual 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!!!’
She explained that husband Gerhardt Nell had been expecting to take her to a five-star hotel in Sun City for Valentine’s Day, but the news forced a change of plans.
Instead, he stumped up £1,500 to allow her to track the giraffe through the bush before shooting it dead.
A video of the hunt shows how she encountered the inquisitive animal among tall foliage, before shooting it through the front of the neck.
She then walked to the spot where the 17-year-old giraffe had collapsed, before firing a second shot which killed it.
As a team moved in to skin the animal, Van Der Merwe posed with its heart – an image that she then posted on Facebook for her 90,000 followers.
Reminiscing on the hunt, she wrote: ‘I was literally like a little child for two weeks and counted down the days.
‘Afterwards I was flooded with emotions as I’ve been waiting years to have this opportunity!!’
The images quickly caused a stir online, but an unrepentant Van Der Merwe lashed out at her critics, branding them ‘triggered liberals’ while vowing that nothing would stop her hunting big game.
The citrus farm owner, who refers to animal activists as a ‘mob’, wrote: ‘I will put this offer on the table – want to come kill [me] like you said, I’ll come and pick you up at the airport and give you the opportunity.
‘But if you fail to do so, just make sure you leave your family a big life insurance!!! Because there will not be a return ticket.
‘I ain’t scared of s*** especially animal rights activists who still lives with mommy because they get triggered by everything so they go to the supermarket and buy their meat because no animal gets hurt there!
‘I’ve been hearing the same old mob stories for years and yet I’m still here and still hunting.’
Van Der Merwe is a well-known hunter who is thought to have killed some 500 animals over the course of her life, including lions, leopards and elephants, according to the Daily Mirror.
She claims that trophy hunting helps conserve species by removing older animals from the population while providing funding for conservation.
Conservationists dispute this, saying that trophy hunting encourages people to breed animals for sport, which disrupts ecosystems and harms the environment.
Removing wild animals, particularly large males, damages the herds in which they live, animal activists argue.
Dr Mark Jones of the Born Free Foundation told the Mirror: ‘Trophy hunting is not a conservation tool, nor does it contribute significant funds to local communities.’