‘Distressing’ hunting ad appearing on Instagram users’ feeds

Charlotte Willis

WARNING: Distressing image below

A sponsored ad from a safari company appearing on Instagram feeds has angered users, with many calling on the photo-sharing app to have the “distressing” image taken down.

The post by Australian safari company High Country Safaris, depicts a man holding a rifle while kneeling beside a dead dear.

The caption reads, “Justin our latest client with his free range Javen Rusa. Shot in the last few hours of a 5 day hunt. The new world record, shot with a muzzle loader. there are many more of these trophies out there. Congratulations Justin!”

The deer, a Javan rusa, is native to the islands of Java, Bali and Timor in Indonesia.

Instagram users have expressed their disgust over the hunting photo in the comments section.

“I’m very disappointed that this ad has appeared on my feed. In no way is this ‘relevant’ to anything I have liked previously,” one user wrote.

“How come there is no ‘report’ option on sponsored ads? This ad is horrible and upsetting.”

Another commented: “Do NOT post this on my feed I have no interest at all. Get it off …”

Yet another: “This is foul… What the hell is wrong with Instagram… Know your audience morons.”

One user simply posted, “Its name was Cecil”, a reference to Zimbabwe’s iconic lion, who was killed by American dentist Walter Palmer in July last year, fuelling global backlash.

The sponsored hunting ad now appears to have been deleted from Instagram, but not before garnering nearly 300 comments from outraged users of the site, with most wondering why the “disgraceful” post was popping up on their feeds and calling for it to be removed.

Commercial posts have been active for the past two years on the photo-sharing platform and are designed to be integrated into what would typically appear on users’ feeds, based on what they search for.

A US Instagram spokesman told at the time of the launch that the organisation had been “very careful” with the rollout of ads.

“The CEO personally reviews every ad, so they look very natural, like a magazine,” the spokesman said.

High Country Safaris is a Queensland-based hunting safari company “offering the very best safaris for free range hunting for all species of the South Pacific”, according to their official Facebook page.

The ‘about’ section of the company’s page reads: “Red Stag, Fallow, Chital, Rusa, Buffallo, Banteng, Scrub Bull, Tahr, Chamois, Sika, Sambar, Goat & more. Queensland Red Stags are our passion. Northern Territory is also a favourite destination for record book trophys.

“We also offer the hunters paradise in New Zealand. We work in with the very best New Zealand outfitters, Southern Hunting Safaris Ltd offering the best free range hunting New Zealand can provide. We offer outstanding ranch hunts for that special trophy in Australia & New Zealand.

“If you are a serious trophy hunter or a beginner, father & son, husband & wife we offer you all an exceptional hunt with our experienced team. Come hunt with us & leave a friend forever.”