A hunter shot dead a rare giraffe then had its heart cut out to show off as a sickening Valentine’s Day “gift”.

Merelize Van Der Merwe said that killing the majestic animal had been on her bucket list for five years.

The mum of one, who has been hunting since age five, paid almost £1,500 to shoot the black bull giraffe on February 14.

The 32-year-old says she has killed up to 500 animals including lions, leopards and elephants.

She posted pictures of herself on Facebook holding the giraffe’s heart with the words: “Ever wondered how big a giraffe’s heart is? I’m absolutely over the moon with my BIG valentines present!!!”

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She and husband Gerhardt Nell had planned a trip to the Sun City resort in South Africa when she got a call saying a black bull giraffe had been spotted in a game park – and changed her plans immediately.

She paid £1,500 to shoot dead the animal

Merelize, who runs a citrus farm in Limpopo, South Africa, said the giraffe was skinned and its hide would be used to make a rug. And she hoped the snaps of her with its heart would provoke the animal rights lobby.

She said: “I have no respect for the anti-hunting lobby. I call them the mafia. They have threatened to kill my daughter and mother. But if they are going to give me hell I will give them hell twice as bad – and that’s why I posted the pictures.”

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She said hunting was vital for conservation to succeed in South Africa, adding: “If you ban hunting, animals will become worthless and they will disappear.

The sickening photo of her holding the giraffe’s heart

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“Hunting brings in money for South Africa and has helped bring back a lot of species from the brink of extinction.”

Comedian Ricky Gervais said recently: “It’s hard to think of anything more sickening or senseless than killing an animal for entertainment, then hacking it up so you can display its body parts and brag about it.

“Trophy hunting is humanity at its very worst.”

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