January 13, 2014
Despite Criticism, Dallas Safari Club Auctions Rhino Hunting Permit
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Despite much criticism and controversy, a permit to hunt an endangered black rhinoceros was auctioned off by the Dallas Safari Club on Saturday night, with the final bid coming in at $350,000. The auction, first announced in October, has drawn international fire from conservation groups, critics and others.
“There’s no question in my mind that the negative publicity dissuaded some people from bidding,” Richard Cheatham, volunteer general counsel and former president of the Dallas Safari Club, told The Dallas Morning News.
The safari club and supporters of the auction pointed out that proceeds from the sale would go, perhaps ironically, toward black rhino conservation efforts such as habitat protection and anti-poaching patrols. The safari club also said the rhino being hunted is an older, non-breeding male, which can become aggressive and disruptive to both the breeding activities of younger rhinos and the larger ecosystem. The hunting permit would be issued for the African country of Namibia, which has recently taken up the practice of allotting five black rhino hunting permits each year.
Despite its conservation-related aspects, the auction drew several dozen protestors to the Safari Club’s annual convention in downtown Dallas, which wrapped up over the weekend. Convention attendee Hanns-Louis Lamprecht, of Hungers Namibia Safaris, said he saw an auction attendee refuse to bid after receiving a call from his daughter telling him not to.
“It annoys me to tears,” said Lamprecht, a Namibian national. “I was so angry last night. A million dollars would have lasted years, years in the conservation efforts. … The fact is it could have been more — it could have been a lot more.”
Chris Hudson, president-elect of the club, emphasized that the auction would provide benefits for Namibia and its black rhinos, which currently number around 1,800 animals.
“The Namibian minster was elated, just jumping up and down,” Hudson said.
Despite the controversy – or because of it – Cheatham noted that attendance at the convention was up 25 percent on Saturday compared with the previous year.
“It by far is the most successful convention we’ve ever had from an attendance standpoint, from sales on the floor and energy on the floor,” he said.
The unnamed auction winner is expected 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 Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson told the AFP back in October.
He added that Namibia has determined 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.”