Ricky Gervais tweet sparks online fury

A tweet by comedian Ricky Gervais sparked an onslaught of threats and outrage. He posted an image of hunter Rebecca Francis smiling next to a giraffe she killed and the image has prompted thousands of angry responses directed toward her, reports CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers.

The picture was taken five years ago and it has put the well-known huntress in the crosshairs of an aggressive backlash.

That post set off an online assault of threats and outrage directed toward Francis.

"Ricky Gervais has 7.5 million Twitter followers, so he is able to incite an audience against her and so the attack this time happens to be a bit more strong," HuntingLife.com CEO and fonder Kevin Paulson said.

Francis, who appeared on the series "Eye of the Hunter," said the particular animal was already close to death.

In a statement she wrote "he could either be wasted or utilized by the local people. I chose to honor his life and I do not regret it for one second."

"In Africa, when we go to go hunt there, we're paying a certain number of dollars for each animal," Paulson said. "Part of that money is being used to actually provide the conservation for those particular animals."

But Gervais, an animal rights activist, dismissed the notion of equating hunters with conservationists on the then "Opie and Anthony" radio show.

"Why couldn't you give the money and not shoot it?" he said. "Let's put this in context. Imagine someone saying, 'There's a guy, he's going to give $1 million to cancer research, all he wants is to shoot one cancer patient.'"

More than 140,000 giraffes roamed Africa in 1999 according to the Giraffe Conservation Fund. That number is now fewer than 80,000.

Francis has been attacked in the past for posting images of her kills, but her supporters insist this hunt had a meaningful purpose.

"With this particular giraffe, she knows that she's providing enough meat to almost feed that village for a month and so she's accomplished something and it's something to be proud of," Paulson said.