rebecca francis
Lion hunter Rebecca FrancisChannel 4

The title alone was rabble-rousing enough but Wednesday night's (29 June) documentary The Women Who Kill Lions comprises shocking content to match.

Channel 4 viewers follow two women – and their attempts to justify their participation – in a controversial blood sport.

A glimpse into the world of female trophy hunters, as the stories of American Rebecca Francis and Canadian-Croatian Jacine Jadresko unveiled, the Channel 4 documentary on big game killers was met with wrath from social media.

The Twitter backlash from horrified viewers came in thick and fast. As Francis – widely criticised, in particular, by animal rights campaigners such as Ricky Gervais – was seen posing for pictures with dead trophies, she explaining the motivations behind killing one of the world's most endangered and treasured species.

One user expressed her disgust as such: "I cannot watch The Women Who Kill Lions on @Channel4 – no doubt it will glorify and paint these women in a sympathetic light, disgusted" while another added: "Been watching the women who kill lions for less than 5 minutes and I already feel sick".

Another watcher had no sympathy for the women amid the online fury, posting: "The Women Who Kill Lions on Channel4. Rebecca Francis & Jacine Jadresko, You deserve every death threat you get."

Celebrities also piped up during the the incendiary debate, with former Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury and property TV presenter Amanda Lamb slamming the hunters. Bradbury told her 61,000 Twitter followers: "Better kill that beautiful big lion before hunting them becomes illegal. And don't forget to do a little jig #TheWomenWhoKillLions."

Lamb was equally damning, telling her 110,00 fans: "I've been feeling angrier about the state of things this week than I ever have #TheWomenWhoKillLions is about to tip me over the edge".

Gervais posted a poignant tweet after the show's airing, a possible response to the female hunters without directly acknowledging them:

See more of the Twitter reaction below.