A TV personality who went on Facebook and Twitter to boast of killing a lion has become an overnight pariah in social media circles.
CTV News reports that Melissa Bachman, a hunter who hosts the U.S. cable series Winchester Deadly Passion, is drawing widespread criticism after she posted a photograph of her posing beside the corpse of an adult male lion late last week.
“Incredible day in South Africa,” Bachman said in her original tweet. “Stalked inside 60-yards on this beautiful male lion … what a hunt!”
The photograph shows a beaming Bachman kneeling beside her dead prey while holding her hunting rifle.
While Bachman was clearly playing to the narrow viewing demographic that might watch a hunting program (her show airs on a specialty cable channel called The Pursuit Network), it’s unlikely she expected such a vociferous response.
Once again, the harshest feedback came on Twitter.
Within moments of the picture being posted, Luke Patience (@patience_luke) tweeted: “It’s people like Melissa Bachman that make the world a worse place. We can all pull a trigger you coward. Absolute scumbag.”
From Dutch biologist Dr. Freek Vonk (@freekvonk): “Melissa Bachman enjoys killing amazing wildlife just ‘for the fun of it.’ A sickening contradiction to our culture of conservation.”
And this to-the-point tweet from Tayler Norris (@taylernorris): “Hope that Melissa Bachman gets mauled by lions the stupid cow.”
Also weighing in on the lion photo was the cheeky British comedian Ricky Gervais, who shared Bachman’s “what a hunt!” comment on his own Twitter feed, albeit with the proviso: “Spot the typo.”
Gervais got more serious a few days later with his tweet: “Animals are not here for us to do as we please with. We are not their superiors, we are their equals. We are their family. Be kind to them.”
Within hours of her original posting, Bachman was compelled to deactivate her Facebook and Twitter pages.
Bachman’s seemingly cold-blooded act also prompted Cape Town resident Elan Burman to start an online petition requesting the South African government to ban her from ever setting foot in the country again.
“She is an absolute contradiction to the culture of conservation this country prides itself on,” Burman said in his petition introduction.
This isn’t the first time Bachman has found her name on the wrong side of a petition. Last year, she was removed as a contestant from the National Geographic series Ultimate Survival Alaska after 13,000 people signed a petition protesting the inclusion of a “heartless trophy hunter” in the reality competition.
It’s probably worth pointing out that killing animals is what Bachman does for a living.
Bachman’s official website is filled with photos of her posing beside dead turkeys, bears, zebras and alligators. Likewise for her personal YouTube channel, which recently posted video of her gunning down a defenceless moose in Newfoundland.
But in putting those same images on social media, and then crowing over it, Bachman crossed a line. Social media was not invented to perpetuate violent activity.
And for the record, the African lion is rated “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, but it is not officially an endangered species. According to the organization, “the main threats to lions are indiscriminate killing.”
Shooting a lion with a high-powered rifle from 60 yards away, and all for a cable TV show with a limited audience? That’s lower than indiscriminate killing. That’s slaughter.