While canned hunting has been exposed a number of times in the news, internationally the big focus has tended to be on certain individuals, rather than the practice as a whole. Two of the biggest stories about canned hunting in the news this year have circled around two figures. Kendall Jones, the 19-year-old cheerleader from Texas, was on the end of a significant social media backlash resulting in the removal of many of her photos from Facebook. More recently, a Belgian football fan, Axelle Despiegelaere, who was scouted by L'Oreal at the FIFA World Cup, was the target. Her contract with them was cancelled when her involvement in canned hunting came to light soon after.
While these young women have made headlines and their reputations and careers have been damaged by expressions of disgust in the press, one may legitimately ask why this chorus of disapproval has not been directed towards the practice itself. While American and international public anger towards these individuals has brought the practice further into the public eye and resulted in action being taken against them, the practice itself continues unabated, not only across Africa, but in the U.S. For the wealthy in America it is not necessary to go to former British colonies such as Botswana to shoot a wide array of exotic African wildlife such as zebras, lions and oryx as well as the chance to hunt Asian animals, even tigers, the legal framework in the U.S. means that trophy hunters can easily find an American destination where, for a fee, they can kill an exotic animal of their choice. This is no secret, but in spite of public opposition over the years, whether due to legal reasons or possibly the strength of the hunting lobbies, canned hunting continues here.
It is estimated that there are over 1,000 such canned hunts in the U.S., with approximately half of them taking place in the state of Texas. The animals made available for these trophy tourists are confined on special ranges, and so they have no means of escaping the sights of loaded rifles. They are often hand-reared and so have little natural fear of people; safari operators lure them into more enclosed areas using food as bait, and in some cases they are tranquilized to ensure 100% success for the hunter. The reason for this is that there is usually a rule of no kill, no fee. While the hunters may believe that they have exerted their dominance over a wild creature, in reality this is no fair game.