Mike Jines, American Businessman Who Posed With Baby Elephant He Killed, Claims He Shot It In Self-Defense

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American business executive Mike Jines faced a worldwide backlash after proudly sharing pictures of two elephants he killed while on safari in Africa — one of them a baby. Now, Jines is claiming that he only killed them in self-defense.

Jines was seen smiling over the bodies of the dead elephants in pictures that attracted viral interest over the last few weeks, sparking a stream of angry messages and a massive backlash against his company. As the Independent reported, many took aim at the Georgia energy firm where Jines serves as a partner, sending messages calling for him to be fired and leaving poor reviews of TopGen Energy online.

Jines has defended himself, saying in an interview with CBS 46 that both elephants were mature, not juveniles.

“While I can appreciate hunting can be polarizing and that views can vary materially, I am sure you can appreciate what it is like to deal with the vitriol, particularly when the underlying information in this case is inaccurate,” he said.

Jines also claimed that he and his hunting partner only shot the elephants after they charged at the men. He described how both fired a shot at a cow that charged at them, sending the elephant crashing to the ground. He wrote about the excitement of firing at the animals and bringing them down.

“Certainly a little more excitement than we had bargained for on Day 1,” Jines wrote on social media.

A picture of Mike Jines smiling in front of the dead young elephant was posted on Facebook by a user named Darrell Eisman, tagging Jines by name and encouraging anyone who felt upset about the killing to take action. Many did by targeting the company that employed Jines.

The picture later gained viral interest on both Twitter and Reddit, where many spoke out against the practice of killing elephants. Some critics took aim at Donald Trump, who lifted the ban on elephant and some lion trophies being brought back to the United States from big game hunters. Many noted that Trump’s own sons participated in the controversial hunts of rare animals on safari.

Mike Jines had been an outspoken advocate for the right to hunt elephants, speaking out against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after it banned the imports of hunted elephants in 2014. Jines wrote a comment against the act, saying that the agency would become “emboldened to continue down the path of nibbling away at the rights of sport hunters.”