An Australian businessman and big game hunter has resigned from his role as vice president of a private club after facing backlash for posing with the bodies of animals he shot on safari.
The controversial photos and videos surfaced online, showing Nick Haridemos, the former exec of Hellenic Club, with several of his kills, including a bull elephant and a baboon he dressed up in sunglasses and hat.
The images were reportedly taken sometime between 2010 and 2016 on a number of trips to Africa and were posted to a public Photobucket account by the user “nickha1.” They were also shared on Twitter and in an online forum where hunters report their kills, according to the Canberra Times.
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Alongside a video of the baboon shared on Photobucket, the user wrote “Absolutely funny as hell!”referencing the dead animal posed behind the wheel of a car.
He also commented on an image of Haridemos holding an elephant ivory, noting that Namibia “is truly the place to hunt the biggest ivory in Africa, especially with Botswana now closed,” the Times reported.
Haridemos did not deny posting the material and his lawyer told the Times that all hunting trips were legal. “This is a regulated activity, which is undertaken in accordance with licenses and quotas issued by the relevant country, and is conducted in a manner that does not pose a threat to any endangered species,” the lawyer stated.
The photos sparked major backlash online, especially among animal rights activists, who called the photos appalling.
“With boundless opportunities for amusement, it speaks volumes that such people get a thrill from gunning down, and turning into objects of ridicule, other individuals who ask for nothing out of life but the chance to live it,” a spokeswoman for animal rights group PETA Australia told the Times.
Carolyn Drew, spokeswoman for Animal Liberation ACT, told the Times she believes “hunters get a kick out of both the power they feel when killing an animal and then through posing or showing off to the hunting community. They get a thrill,” she said.
Drew also noted that hunting enables the poaching trade. According to the World Wildlife Fund, “despite a ban on the international trade of ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks.”
People on social media began calling for a boycott of the Hellenic Club, calling for Haridemos to be removed from the Board of Directors.
On Wednesday, the club posted a statement to Facebook saying Haridemos had resigned.
“The Hellenic Club of Canberra advises that Director and Vice-President Nick Haridemos has resigned from the Hellenic Club Board. Mr. Haridemos’ resignation takes effect immediately.”
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While many were happy to see Haridemos go, a few others commented that despite people’s personal feelings over his choice of recreational activities, Haridemos shouldn’t be fired for participating in the legal activities.
“I don’t like or agree with what he does, in fact, it disgusts me. Should your work tenure be compromised by what you do legally, and in your own time, because other people don’t like it? I don’t think so,” one person wrote.