Melissa Bachman Twitter_5

This photo of big game hunter and Minnesota-based television presenter, Melissa Bachman, went crazy viral on Nov. 19, and nearly every story about it has too. A fury of death threats and other raging comments have erupted from even the least likely of individuals, filling up Bachmann’s social media pages.

By now, most of us know the story: Bachman posted the photo above of her smiling self with a lion carcass on Facebook and Twitter with the caption, “An incredible day hunting in South Africa! Stalked inside 60-yards on this beautiful male lion. What a hunt!”

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She legally shot the big cat on the land of the Maroi Conservancy based in the Limpopo province of South Africa, whose motto is “conservation through sustainable hunting,” reports ABC News.

A petition was soon started on Change.org urging the South African government to ban Bachman from entering the country. The petition has 248,339 supporters as of this article’s publication. A Facebook page has also popped up with strong voices against Bachman and big game hunters.

The backlash to her photo is certainly warranted as big game hunting is a poor excuse for conservation, especially when 75 percent of wild lions have been killed in the last 20 years, and this number is likely to accelerate in the next decade if nothing is done, as reported by ABC News.

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Yet the backlash against Bachman has turned monstrous.

Some commenters have called Bachman a “c*nt,” others use “sick b*tch,” and still more wished for her death with lines like, “@MelissaBachman you’re a f*cking vile human being who serves no purpose on this planet, and to top it off, you’re ugly too” and “@MelissaBachman You are the worst human … I hope that you kill himself with your own weapons #AbsolutelyLoser @darcyquinnr @carocruzosorio.”

These are pretty harsh words for one human being, and any advocate knows that this is not how you win a fight.

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Perhaps such a backlash has ensued because this is really the first time that a big game hunting photo has gone viral, exposing trophy hunting for what it is, but the comments paint an even more troubling picture.

There are countless photos of smiling trophy hunters with their big game prey (do a quick Google search to see just a handful of them). These are easily accessible photographs, and have been posted on plenty of social media pages before, but none have drawn such fierce reactions like Bachman’s — probably because all the others show males holding up their prized prey, and Bachman breaks the mold as a female.

This is not to say that Bachman’s actions shouldn’t be criticized, but rather that what’s going on under the surface needs to be examined.

Recently the male-dominated Dallas Safari Club came out with a ridiculous proposal to auction off a hunt of a rare African black rhino (which has not been stopped as of this writing), gaining quite a bit of attention but not nearly as much as Bachman’s photo has, begging the question – is it easier to stomach male hunters killing big, majestic creatures than female ones?

Even the popular Change.org petition is only aimed at banning Bachman from South Africa, not all the other big game hunters who legally stalk their prey at Maroi Conservancy and in other African countries.

Ideally, neither female hunters nor male hunters should be held up to different standards. In either case, animals who do not need to die are being killed and that should be the real focus.

What’s more, so many commenters are outraged by the death of this one male lion, but billions of animals are killed each year, often ending up on billions of dinner plates around the world. These animals are also victims of injustice and cruelty, and are just as deserving of our attention as a lion.

So instead of pointing fingers, let’s look at the bigger picture, and see how we can be a part of the solution.

Below, discover a quick round-up of posts detailing ways you can effectively help animals in need today.

Image source: Melissa Bachman / Twitter