SCI is First for Hunters – Read Celie Ozier’s Story!

After a recent hunt in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, 18-year-old Celie Ozier of Memphis, Tennessee shared a photo of a plains zebra she successfully harvested on Instagram. Hours later thousands of people were wrongfully accusing her of murder on social media. Anti-hunters went as far as sending digital death threats, visiting her family’s home, and contacting the admissions department of the college she plans on attending this fall.

No one deserves to be attacked for legally harvesting an animal. This is Celie’s story:

 “Bleary eyed and totally jet lagged, I reach out to grab my cell-phone when my morning alarm goes off. I’m on a hunting trip to South Africa. I should have slept through my alarm because I had no idea of the surprise waiting for me. Hours earlier, I had posted a few photos of my trip to South Africa, and a typical game shot with the plains zebra I acquired. The plains zebra is a legally hunt-able from Africa, with a PH who monitors population, as anyone who has ever hunted there knows. They are, however, a tough hunt.  Non-hunters, and folks who’ve never hunted exotic game in Africa, sometimes think of them as glorified horses and wonder why anyone would shoot them; but no one has ever figured out how to domesticate them unlike animals such as horses and donkeys, so the zebra species exists only as a wild animal population on the plains and in the hills of South Africa.
Unlike me, thousands upon thousands of people in my Instagram did not know that the plains Zebra, when on a conservation with professional hunters and conservationists, can become easily overpopulated and is far from extinct.  Due to the current lack of apex predators on game farms such as the one I’m hunting at, humans become the primary game percentage supervision for all the animals on the reserve. Hunters pay for security against poachers, and many other protections for animals and their environment. After shooting my zebra and getting thousands of hate comments, personal privacy threats, having people point guns at my dog while my mom is back at home, and rocks thrown at my home windows, I decided there was something off. How could people not know of the immense benefit of monitoring species ratios to make sure all species reimagined equally as populous and thriving? Being told that you are disgusting, a killer, and a white supremacist made me think about the human brain today. It’s been rewired wrong. It was designed to process facts and use them for conclusions. What is it inside culture today that decides to impulsively see and impulsively have an emotional response? We should not be thinking with our emotions, we should be thinking with our brains. A lack of thoughtful, logical conclusions shows how something well-known to be beneficial in Africa, can be seen as insanity in a place like the United States, a supposed place of free speech. America, let’s do better at understanding how hunting is conservation, than the countries in Africa that don’t have freedom, yet somehow seem to be more logically competent. Sincerely, an 18 year old “zebra slayer” (credits to anonymous cyber bullying accounts on my IG)”

Communities in southern Africa depend on the revenues and conservation practices from international hunters. In many cases, hunting is the only viable economic option to protect wildlife, habitat, and community livelihoods. The growing anti-hunting sentiment in the Western world is not only irrational, but actually dangerous to proven conservation strategies, and most importantly, the people living alongside wildlife. Living in the United States, we can only imagine how rural Africans must feel when someone from New York City decides that often dangerous and destructive (even to other species) wildlife should not be hunted, in total contradiction of the science and proven conservation strategies.

For these, and many more reasons, SCI supports Celie and all other ethical hunters. This week marks the start of our Big 5 Summer Series, where we will focus on the importance of international hunters and the current legislative issues. Be sure to learn more information and tune in!

SCI is always First for Hunters – Thank you, Celie, for fighting for what’s right!

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