As the Internet continues to fume and froth over the poaching of Cecil the lion by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, another man is causing a stir after a photo published in National Geographic went viral over the weekend.
Kerry Krottinger, a wealthy Texas hunter and businessman, has slaughtered so much African wildlife over the years that he amassed a veritable "wall of death" in his Dallas-area home. The National Geographic portrait depicts him sitting with his wife among the taxidermied bodies of lions, rhinos, cheetah, giraffes and enough elephant tusks to open a traditional Chinese hospital.
The British-based charity LionAID, which uploaded the photo to their Facebook page on July 23, took a markedly dim view. "This is just one Texas trophy hunter with a 'love' of Africa," they write. "Is it any wonder that Africa's wildlife is disappearing?"
Little is known about Krottinger's personal life. Aside from being an energy millionaire with multiple companies to his name, he and his wife Libby operate a Gypsy horse farm called Ndugu Ranch. A website about the property had been taken offline, but a cache copy can be viewed here. A Facebook page also associated with the ranch was also taken down. Next to a smiling photo of the pair, Krottinger wrote he named the ranch after the Swahili word for "brother" or "family member," and that the couple has "a great love for Africa."
Krottinger's kingly haul of animal carcasses was acquired through what's known as "conservation hunting," a practice that is supposedly designed to protect species by allowing people to hunt animals for a high fee that's then to be used for other conservation efforts. Palmer, who is now facing indictment in Zimbabwe for poaching, said in a statement that he had trusted his guides and assumed his activities had been legal.
Far from poachers, conservations hunters — and the websites that promote them — see themselves as environmentalists. LionAID's director Pieter Kat said the whole premise was nonsense.
"Conservation hunting is a complete myth," he told Mic. "If conservation hunting had been effective, Cecil the lion would not have to have been poached out of a national park, because conservation hunting would have maintained a viable and sustainable lion population within their own trophy hunting concession."
According to Kat, steep fees like the more than $50,000 Palmer paid to kill Cecil typically end up in the pockets of tour operators. "Sustainable hunting does not sustain anything," he said.
PETA president Ingrid Newkirk was blunter still. "The idea of killing animals to 'protect' their species is like having 5-year-olds build a child-labor museum," she said in a statement to Mic. "True conservationists are the people who pay to keep animals alive through highly lucrative eco-tourism, not the power-hungry people who pay for the cheap thrill of taking magnificent animals' lives and putting their heads on a wall."
On Twitter, the response was one of almost universal disgust, with the photo generating near Cecil-levels of rage.
Kat was unapologetic about the Krottinger-shaming on LionAID's Facebook page. "What we were trying to do there is to alert people to the fact that trophy hunters have this sort of enjoyment of their activity, and what we would like to expose to people is these sorts of people belong in the 19th century," he said.
Numerous calls and emails to Krottinger by Mic were not returned by Monday morning.