A trophy hunter has spoken out in defence of her controversial hobby – just days after celebrities rallied together to call for the end of big game hunting.
Olivia Opre, 41, appeared on ITV’s This Morning via live video link from her home in Wyoming, where she discussed the reaction to her friend and fellow hunter Britney Longoria who recently posed with a large male leopard that she had shot.
The mother-of-four, who was stood in front of an enormous stuffed lion and lioness in her home that she had killed, said that the reason she takes part is to get close to nature.
She said: ‘I think what it is, it’s bringing me to a place where I get to be a part of these wild places. And amongst the people of these areas, it’s the adventure, it’s the pursuit.
‘It’s something that pushes you to a limit you are not comfortable with and it takes you out of your comfort zone and for me hunting is just being in the wild.’
Trophy hunter Olivia Opre appeared live from Wyoming on ITV’s This Morning where she defended her controversial hobby and said that she gets a thrill out of being closer to nature. Pictured, Olivia
The US mother-of-four has travelled the world in search of prey and said she has killed around 100 different species – but didn’t reveal the exact amount of animals she had slaughtered in her pursuit
Olivia explained to horrified presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby that she had travelled the world in search of prey – including endangered species that she was happy to kill.
‘There’s an extensive list, I have hunted on six continents, all over Africa, I’ve been on about 40 safaris in eight different countries so about 100 species altogether I’d say.’
The former Miss America contestant has been hunting since she was 16, and has killed a hippo, a Cape Buffalo and darted a black rhino and a male lion in Benin in West Africa.
Olivia believes the main problem is the way in which hunters took pictures of their kills and distributed them was the upsetting part and wanted to take efforts to change it.
She went on to claim that hunting helps the wildlife conservation efforts which irked Holly and Phillip.
Celebrities slammed a female hunter named Britany Longoria who went viral for smiling and posing with the giant leopard she killed. The picture was originally shared on the Safari Club International (SCI) website and went viral soon afterwards
Beauty and the beast: Opre, pictured posing with a representation of a zebra, was once a winner of Miss Nebraska and entered into the Miss America beauty pageant
ITV presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were horrified at Olivia’s defence that killing animals helped preserve them
The mother-of four has visited six continents and being on over 40 safaris in different countries in pursuit of a kill, and says that she wants to reconsider the photos she and other hunters share
‘Ultimately hunters are the ones giving so much back to preserving these wild species,’ Olivia said.
‘How is that possible by killing an animal how is that giving back to the species? How? that doesn’t make sense,’ a desparing Holly asked.
‘There’s a lot of places where no photographers are going to go to Liberia and take a photograph but hunters have a desire to go to new places and as a result of these hunters coming in they are creating jobs.’
She also said that there was continued anti-poaching efforts, and reiterated that poaching was illegal and hunting was not and helped conservation.
Wildlife conservationist and Big Cat Society member Giles Clark, who was in the ITV studio, fumed that what Olivia was doing was ‘abhorrent, unethical, immoral and unnecessary’.
This Morning airs weekdays on ITV at 10.30am
Olivia Opre considers herself a conservationist despite openly admitting to killing for sport and says that she is helping species in the wild