A trophy hunter who is believed to have lured a lion to its death at the Kruger National Park has been identified on social media as a wealthy American from Kentucky, who is facing a harsh social media backlash.
The social media justice Jared Whitworth has faced so far has included the sharing of his cellphone number and email address, along with vilification, outrage and threats.
The trophy hunter was alleged to have paid £60 000 (or more than a million rand) for the controversial kill, and kept the lion’s skin and head as trophies.
The South African professional hunter who reportedly organised the shoot, Graham Sales, is facing a much smaller, but still significant, backlash.
Conservationists fear the lion was a dominant male called Skye, the leader of the park’s western pride, who has not been seen since the hunt.
African Geographic reported the trophy hunting team had denied this, claiming the slain animal was in fact an old male lion with worn teeth and a protruding spine. However, they refused to provide a photo of the dead lion to prove their claim, citing legal and personal safety concerns.
Canned lion hunters are never popular on social media, with some believing the backlash against identified culprits could lead to the ‘sport’ being banned.
In 2015, a Minnesota dentist called Walter Palmer faced a massive backlash after he killed Cecil, a beloved lion who was a major attraction at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
After Palmer was named as the hunter who killed Cecil, his dentist practice at the Bloomington clinic and Eden Prairie home became the focus of protests. Animal welfare groups also vandalised a holiday home Palmer owns in Florida.
The clinic was shut for weeks, eventually reopening without him.
New details emerged earlier this year that Cecil the Lion’s killers lured him out of a protected park in Zimbabwe with an elephant carcass, causing renewed outrage.
Palmer was never prosecuted for the killing of Cecil.