Who is Merelize Van Der Merwe? Trophy hunter dubbed 'psychopath' after shooting giraffe and posing with its heart

Merelize started hunting at the age of 5 and has killed as many as 500 animals including lions, leopards and elephants


                            Who is Merelize Van Der Merwe? Trophy hunter dubbed 'psychopath' after shooting giraffe and posing with its heart
Merelize van der Merwe has enraged users and animal rights activists after her Valentine's Day trip (Facebook)
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Trigger warning: animal abuse, graphic images and blood

Trophy hunting is widely criticized for disregarding animal rights. But trophy hunter Merelize Van Der Merwe, from South Africa, did not have a care in the world for her critics or animal rights when, on Valentine's Day, she posed with the heart of a giraffe she had just shot. What shocked many is that Merelize shot the giraffe and then cut its heart out. These grand gestures have angered animal rights campaigners who are taking to social media to outrage. 

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Merelize shook the internet when she posted multiple photos of herself, in all smiles, with a giraffe she had just killed. She even uploaded pictures posing with the heart of the dead animal. The hunt was a £1,500 ($2,000) experience of shooting a giraffe and posing with its heart gifted to Merelize by her husband for Valentine’s Day.

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"Ever wondered how big a giraffe’s heart is? I’m absolutely over the moon with my BIG valentines present!!!’" she captioned the picture and thanked her husband for setting up the day. Safe to say that the image was not all fascinating for many on social media as they took to slam the trophy hunter. But none of the criticism had any effect on Merelize who said, according to The Mirror, "I have no respect for them - I call them the mafia."

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A Giraffe in the Pilanesberg National Park before the third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on November 11, 2017 in Sun City, South Africa. (Getty Images)

Merelize and her husband had planned a Valentine's Day trip to the resort of Sun City when she was told of the kill. "I’d waited years for my own perfect bull – the older a bull gets the darker he gets," she said. "I love the skin and the fact it’s such an iconic animal for Africa." "Our plans changed quickly. My wonderful husband Gerhardt knew this was my dream. I was like a child for two weeks, counting the days. Afterward, I was flooded with emotions." According to the same report, Merelize plans to use the animal's skin as a rug. 

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Merelize Van Der Merwe posted more graphic images of the killing to her Facebook account (Facebook)

She said the hunting and killing of the giraffe, who was 17 years old, "created work for 11 people that day" and provided "a lot of meat for the locals". She claimed the death of the old bull would mean "a new bull can take over and provide new strong genetics for the herd".

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Like many hunters, she defends the act. "If hunting is banned, animals will become worthless and will disappear. Hunting has helped bring back a lot of species from the brink of extinction. The only people protecting these animals are trophy hunters." "Hunting has helped bring back a lot of species from the brink of extinction," she said, adding that the act also supports conservation in a way. However, anti-hunting organizations such as Born Free strongly refute Merelize's claims that hunting generates income for conservation efforts or local communities.

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Dr Mark Jones of the Born Free Foundation reportedly said, "Trophy hunters’ claims they are concerned about wildlife conservation are highly misleading. Trophy hunting is not a conservation tool, nor does it contribute significant funds to local communities".

A Giraffe grazes at the Naval Hill Nature Reserve on November 10, 2009 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Getty Images)

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According to reports, hunters pay "large amounts of money for the privilege" of killing wild, trophy animals. Businesses breed animals specifically for hunting "to the detriment of the wider environment", Born Free organization said. "Trophy hunting is a cruel throwback to a colonial past, and the targeting of particular animals (usually those with the most impressive traits such as the biggest tusks or the darkest manes) disrupts animal societies and has knock-on effects for populations and ecosystems that we are only just beginning to understand," Born Free added.

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' Elisa Allen said according to The Mirror report, "Someone who kills another sentient being, cuts out their heart, and boasts about it fits the definition of a sociopath. One day, trophy hunting will be listed as a sign of a psychiatric disorder, as it should be today. It is grandiosity, serial killing, and bloodlust paired with a burning desire to show off."

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32-year-old Merelize started hunting at the age of 5 and has killed up to 500 animals including lions, leopards and elephants.

Internet is riled up with her actions with many taking to social media to call her out. "Merelize Van Der Merwe is a f*cking psychopath and I hope that people in her county appropriately deal with her," one tweeted. "Heartless bitch shoots giraffe to cut out the poor animals heart. If you ever happen to run into Merelize van der Merwe, please run her over – and remember to switch the gear into reverse and run her over again," one user tweeted. Users called out the disgusting act with strong words. "Merelize Van Der Merwe is vile & these people the governments are allowing to get away with this disgusting, disturbing unnecessary hobby are equally to blame. #BanTrophyHunting #AnimalWelfare #AnimalCruelty #internationallaw"

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According to her Facebook page, Merelize says, "Hunting is not just something I do it's who I am, Africa is not just where I live it's my home. Take the journey with me!!!" With 80,622 likes and 96,605 people following her on her page, Merelize has a substantial influence.

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After she went viral, Merelize even took to Facebook to write, "Oooo dear the world is triggered I totally forgot that everyone now has "feeling" and gets triggered by everything!!!"