An image of a lion.

Hunters high five after shooting lion at point-blank range

Social media users have condemned the callousness shown by a group of big-game hunters who high fived each other after shooting a lion at point-blank range.

The video - which has gone viral on Twitter, and allegedly stems from Africa - shows a group of men with guns hunt the male lion, which is shot at close range, and killed instantly in the savannah. The group, armed with high-powered rifles, then crowd round the dead animal, and begin congratulating each other on the successful kill.

Watch the disturbing footage of the hunters below: 

The video was first shared by animal rights activist and anti-hunting campaigner Carrie Symonds - the girlfriend of British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who took to Twitter to share her outrage over the display of animal cruelty.

She wrote: "Sorry to share such a distressing video on #WorldLionDay. There can be zero excuse or justification for such cruelty. There are thought to be just 20,000 lions now left in the wild. We must do better. [sic]"

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She added: "Can you imagine the hunters below fighting these majestic beasts without needing to hide behind a rock and without needing to use a massive gun?"

Many Twitter users commented on the appalling footage. For instance, one person wrote: "What’s the point of killing a lion? I never understood how one can take pleasure in harming or killing animals just for the fun of it. These people are sick."

According to British tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mirror, who interviewed an ex-gamekeeper that sold expensive safari trips to rich tourists and hunters, operations such as the one featured in the above video are a highly-lucrative enterprise, which exploit a range of African species.

In another show of animal cruelty, these men smashed a cake into a lion's face...

Animals killed by game hunters and illegal poachers routinely include baboons, giraffes, elephants and monkeys, many of which are critically endangered or otherwise at risk of extinction.