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A Texas Tech cheerleader, whose Facebook photos showing her posing with a toothy smile next to lions, zebras, leopards and rhinos she has killed, is shrugging off a firestorm of criticism, saying she will "continue to hunt and spread the knowledge of hunting and wildlife conservation."

Nineteen-year-old Kendall Jones, who went on her first big game hunt to Africa when she was 9, calls the photos a testament to her hunting skills and dedication to game preservation.

"I knew when I posted these pictures that there would be people for and against my Facebook page," Jones tells writer Matt Smith, of her hometown newspaper, the Cleburne Times-Review,in a recent e-mail from Africa. "I really am shocked at how rude many people are by name-calling and swearing. I have actually had several death threats, which are going to be investigated. Online bullying and making direct threats is a crime."

The uproar prompted a South African to post a petition on change.org calling for Jones to be banned from African states.

"She has publicly stated that she hopes to have a television hunting show and she is using endangered and helpless African animals as a stepping to further her popularity on social media platforms," says the petition, which has drawn more than 30,000 signatures.

The Dallas News reports that Jones claims to have signed a development deal in January with the Sportsman Channel, but Tom Caraccioli, a spokesman for the channel, says while it "enthusiastically supports ethical, fair-chase hunting and all of its participants – like Kendall Jones – we are not prepared to discuss any potential projects involving her."

As the firestorm increases, Jones is sounding an alarm, saying that "lots of folks" are trying to get her Facebook page shut down and charges that Facebook "is removing content that promotes the safe and ethical conservation and research of Rhinos."

In response, Jones says she is launching a Support Kendall page on Facebook "where supporters can help us stand tall."

Her original Facebook page drew the ire of critics upset by the photos and her cheerful recitation of her big game hunting adventures, including her first big kills in 2009: "This time I got my leopard, and also took down a hippo to get 6 of the Dangerous 7 at the age of 14! I was lucky enough to have all of my hunting adventures professionally videoed and put onto DVD."

In another entry, a smiling Jones poses next to a slain springbok above the caption: "Another harvest for today. ... White springbok, it's 1 of the 4 color shades of this animal! And let me tell you it's one of my favorite kinds of meat so far!"

In comments on her Facebook page, one critic, Alexis Lee, writes: "I'm glad you're enjoying taking the lives of these beautiful, exotic animals. It's nice to know that my children/grandchildren may not be able to see them for themselves one day."

Teddi Fishman adds: "Why? Zebras are peaceful herbivores that usually don't even run away. What joy could there possibly be in hunting them, unless you just like to destroy beautiful things."

Posts Angel Shifflett: "Seriously? What planet are you living on? These animals she is killing do NOT need to be thinned out, in fact some of them are endangered. How is killing these animals helping animal conservation? It's one thing for tribes in that area to hunt for meals. She is doing it for sport and bragging about it. Its inhumane and cruel. You are entitled to your opinion, but so are we."

But Jones also has a solid line of supporters.

Writes Gregg Karal: "Keep the spirit alive Kendall. Don't let any of this noise distract you from doing your part to conserve nature. ... You have helped to provide nourishment to countless villagers with the meat you provide. Hunt on!!!"

Adds Glennette Beach: "When you eat the meat, you are a true hunter! Enjoy your life! Keep hunting!!"

Jessica Jacobs posts: "Definitely have plenty of support! Proud someone is standing up for what you believe! And proud it's a Texan! Can't wait for your show!!

Jones has even parried some critics directly.

After Steve Gordon writes, "Get out of africa, go back to texas. africa is a beautiful place with beautiful animals and beautiful people, you don't belong there," Jones replies, "Actually looking at moving to S Africa soon."

The heated comments also show the wide cultural divide between hunters and non-hunters.

Jones says she was too young at 9 to hold the guns her father brought on her first hunt and waited until she was 13 and could bag one of the Big 5 animals (lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and White/Black rhino).

Writes Jones: "Although I had many other opportunities to shoot animals I wanted to save it for the Big 5, so the first animal I ever shot was a White Rhino with a .416 Remington!!"

One photo, which provoke some of the sharpest criticism, appears to show Jones next to an endangered rhino, but she explains that the animal was alive and well and was being treated for a leg injury. "I felt very lucky to be part of such a great program and procedure that helps the White Rhino population through conservation," she writes.

The teen tells the Tribune-Review that her brand of big-game hunting involves conservation, not indiscriminate slaughtering of endangered animals.

She argues that elephant hunts provide protein for local villagers and can help control leopard populations that wreak havoc on cattle in Zimbabwe.

"Instead of the villagers killing the leopards to prevent livestock damage, permits are sold to hunters to do this for them," she tell the newspaper.

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