Outdoors Column

Auction gets $350K to hunt a black rhino

By Bill Howard | Jan 14, 2014
Photo by: File Bill Howard

The Dallas Chapter of Safari Club International recently auctioned off a hunt for a black rhino for $350,000. All of the money will go toward conservation. Unfortunately there are some issues that have been presented by both the media and anti-hunting organizations.
At first glance one would have to surrender to the concerns raised by groups like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). First, the black rhino is listed as critically endangered with only around 5000 still living. Poachers are to blame for much of population decline. The horns of the rhino are used for ornamentation, daggers, and medicine in some countries. Remarkably, a rhino horn fetches more worth per ounce than gold, to the point an average male black rhino is worth as much as $500,000 in places like Viet Nam.
Even legally taken rhinos and horns from before the mass poaching of the last few decades are illegal to sell currently.
With the low numbers one can understand the argument against the auction.
Until you research further.
Fortunately the Namibian government, who is working with the Dallas Safari Club, has thought things through thoroughly. Namibia needs money in order to combat the illegal taking of the rhinos. They have been allowing as many as three to five rhino hunt permits each year. By offering one of the permits through the auction, Namibia and Safari Club International were hoping for between $250,000 and $1,000,000 to go towards thwarting poachers. The $350,000 raised reached that goal.
For the hunt itself, Namibian officials will be present. Namibia is going to target only the oldest of the black rhinos. The older rhinos no longer reproduce for one. Therefore they do nothing to increase the species population. Second, they tend to be very territorial, thus running off younger bulls that do still mate. The meat from the kill will also be donated to a community near where the hunt will take place. This could equate to nearly 1,200 pounds. In other words, they will be culling old, non-reproducing animals in order to protect the overall population, police poaching activities, supply protected habitat, and feed people that need it.
Now this is where the story even gets more interesting. Several members of the Dallas Safari Club have begun receiving death threats both before and after the auction. One person was told for every black rhino killed there would be an equal number of club members killed as well. Namibia has been selling permits each year, but not until they decided to auction one off in the United States did this become an issue on the forefront. Namibia is now bringing in a large sum of money (they have held an auction in the past that brought in $223,000). Namibia’s average annual income per person is around $6,000. This much money can go a long way toward the fight for the rhino.
The black rhino has been down in numbers before because of poaching. In the 1980’s the herd registered just a few dozen animals. Through conservation practices administered with biologists the herd has made it back to where it is today. The current measures are also taken with biologists’ blessings. However there are some that cannot fathom the killing of one animal in order to save the species. In football terms, it would be like a team taking a safety in order to prevent a touchdown.

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