Children encouraged to slaughter big game on ‘kids go free’ family hunting tours

Parents are forking out thousands of dollars so their children can slaughter exotic animals.

Safari companies are offering special discounts for kids as part of promotion packages for big-game hunts.

Family friendly hunting tours of the African subcontinent are a booming business that hope to inspire the next generation of hunters, a Daily Star investigation found.

In a desperate bid to get youngsters behind the barrel of a gun, tour operators throw in free taxidermy so the majestic animals can be mounted on kids' bedroom walls.

Other perks include videographers hired to film first kills in HD and big first time discounts.

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A photo taken on one such hunt shows a bloodstained schoolboy smiling as he stands over an antelope.

Just moments before he had killed it with a military-grade sniper rifle.

Several of the firms rake in hundreds of thousands by giving punters the chance to kill elephants, lions, leopards and rhinos.

Comedian and animal rights activist Ricky Gervais condemned the practice.

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“There are studies that show the link between the effects of violence on animals and the legacy it imposes on children," he told the Daily Star.

“Serial killers start with animals. Why would any parent take these pointless risks with the psychological wellbeing of their children?

“Kids will do anything to gain approval and respect from their role models – even killing a beautiful wild animal for fun.”

On one hunt led by South Africa’s Cheetah Safaris a four-year-old boy shot a Kudu from point blank range.

In photos uploaded onto Instagram , the child was seen to have a split eyebrow from the rifle recoil.

The caption read: “Gerhard became a real hunter and shot his first kudu today at four years old!

“Had to deal with hunter consequences and got a scope eye. Now nothing is safe!”

Founder of the hunting firm Pieter Bothma offers a combination deal where an elephant, a lion, a white lion and a cape buffalo can be shot for a reduced rate.

South African hunter Carl van Zyl waves the fees of minors who want to kill big game with his X Safaris firm.

He wrote: “We’re passionate about the next generation of hunters.

“In fact, we’re so passionate we’ve taken it upon ourselves to match your investment in their hunt, ultimately our hunting future, by matching the cost of getting them to Africa.

“We figured if you were willing to buy the flight we’d be happy to sponsor the day fee.

“As hunters we need more kids out in the field each day. Bring them along on safari to Africa and help us as we inspire the next generation of hunters.”

Last year Texan surgeon Toby Risko paid for a production company to film his twins slaughtering a gazelle and zebra.

Got The Shot productions claim their “broadcast quality” package will ensure each hunt is “immortalised for generations.”

At one moment in the 45-minute film the daughter kills a zebra with a tripod-mounted sniper rifle.

The twins were interviewed for John X Safaris' annual magazine.

“My favourite part was shooting my zebra stallion because he is so pretty and big," the girl says.

Her twin brother added: “I liked that I was able to shoot so many animals and I’m only nine.”

Another firm, Golden Safaris, put on a 10-day bonding package for dads and their sons.

On its website it claims: “If hunting plains game does not get your heart racing, four of the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, lion and white rhino) are also available.

“The father and son hunting package strives to offer dads wishing to enjoy an African hunting experience with their sons a cost-effective and enjoyable safari experience.

“The trophies in the package are to be shared by fathers and sons.”

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