A photo of a family posing behind a dead elephant has circulated online over the past couples of years, causing outrage, anger, and contempt with every share. Is this photo real or fake?
The photo is real.
This image originally appeared in the photo gallery of the African safari website Frikkie du Toit. Although the “family” version of this photo no longer appears on that site (as of August 2014), there is a second photo with the same carcass still posted in the photo gallery. The Internet Archive from January 2013 still shows the original gallery featuring the “family” photo in question.
One reason this particular particular image has been especially offensive to many is that the elephant appears to have been killed while eating, as evidenced by leaves in the animal’s mouth.
The website featuring this photo offers African hunting packages ranging from 7 to 10 days in length, and costing up to $10,000 per hunter.
The two most common captions associated with the photo are, “Rich Family poses with a dead elephant” and “I see five animals and a dead elephant.”
While the image is distasteful to many, the fact remains that big game hunting is a legal enterprise available to those with the monetary means if they wish to indulge. Hunting is legal in the jurisdiction where this hunt occurred. This, of course, is of no consolation to those who find the practice offensive.
The photo is just one of many images of hunters posing with their kills, which are often met with outrage by anti-hunting groups, while defended by pro-hunters. We have seen a rather heated discussion regarding similar photos posted by TV huntress Melissa Bachman.
While the killing of beautiful, defenseless – and in some instances endangered – exotic animals is repugnant to many, hunters and safari organizers argue that revenues generated from these trophy hunts are used in programs to protect these animal and conserve their habitat. It is a sport that is not likely to fade anytime soon.
People outraged by this type of picture often share them in hopes of spreading the word or garnering support against hunting. In reality, sharing such an image typically only confirms existing beliefs held by those on both sides of the debate.
The photo of the family posing with a recently-killed elephant is real. The photograph only highlights the debate regarding big game hunting, which will always be despised by some and defended by others.
Updated March 12, 2015
Originally published February 2014