Hunting Black Rhinos To Save Them
October 28, 2013

Conservation Controversy: Hunting Black Rhinos To Save Them

[ Watch the Video: Dallas Safari Club To Auction Black Rhino Hunt ]

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Black rhinos are widely considered an endangered species, and according to the World Wildlife Fund, there are only about 4,800 left alive in the African wild. Now, a safari hunting group out of Texas is auctioning off a permit to kill one in Namibia, with the proceeds from the auction ironically going toward saving the endangered animals.

"First and foremost, this is about saving the black rhino," said Ben Carter, executive director of the Dallas Safari Club, which is holding the auction early next year.

“This fundraiser is the first of its kind for an endangered species, and it’s going to generate a sum of money large enough to be enormously meaningful in Namibia’s fight to ensure the future of its black rhino populations.”

The statement went on to say that the permit should “sell for at least $250,000, possibly up to $1 million. The Conservation Trust Fund for Namibia's Black Rhino will receive 100 percent of the sale price.”

The African country currently has an annual quota to kill up to five black rhinos out of herd’s population of 1,795 animals. A permit issued to an American hunter in 2009 to kill a black rhino earned $175,000 for the Namibian Game Products Trust Fund, which pays for conservation work, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The hunter who wins the auction would have to undergo extensive background checks and the animal selected for the hunt would have to be determined to be beneficial for the broader conservation of the species for the US government to allow any trophy to come back inside US borders, Tim Van Norman, a FWS spokesperson told the AFP.

He added that Namibia has decided that older male black rhinos that have already reproduced and are in reproductive decline are the best options for hunting.

"Black rhinos are very territorial so you will have an older male that is keeping younger males from reproducing," Van Norman explained. "By removing these older males from the population, you get an increase in the production of calves. Younger males are able to impregnate the females that are in that area so you get more offspring than from some of these older males."

Many conservationists decried the auction as inappropriate and even disturbing.

"The world is seeing a concerted effort to preserve the very few black rhinos and other rhinos who are dodging poachers' bullets and habitat destruction," said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States."The last thing they need are wealthy elites from foreign lands coming in to kill them for their heads."

Pacelle also questioned the ethics of rich, competitive trophy hunters who say they want to kill in the name of conservation.

"Shooting a black rhino in the wild is about as difficult as shooting a parked car," he said. "If these are multimillionaires and they want to help rhinos, they can give their money to help rhinos. They don't need to accompany their cash transfer with a high caliber bullet.”