Is hunting a rhino ever okay?

2014-01-13 10:36
Cape Town – In November last year, US television presenter and self-styled hardcore huntress, Melissa Bachman, caused global outrage when she posted a photo on Facebook of herself posing with a magnificent maned lion she had shot and killed at Maroi Conservancy in Limpopo.

In light of the widespread critique Bachman’s hunt received, it comes as quite a surprise that now, less than two months later, a permit to hunt a black rhino in Namibia has fetched US$350 000 (R3.7m) at an auction held by the Dallas Safari Club in the US.  

While the auction was met by similar response from animal rights groups and conservationists, with certain members of the Safari Club even receiving death threats, the fact that it was held in the first place calls into question the authority of conservation heavyweights.

While dedicate influential individuals do join forces with world conservation bodies to protect endangered species, why is support from lawmakers so lacking in this regard?

As Jeffrey Flocken, North American regional director of the Massachusetts-based International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), pointed out: "This auction is telling the world that an American will pay anything to kill their species." He added that it was, in fact, making a spectacle of killing an endangered species.

According to an AP report, Ben Carter, executive director of the Safari Club, has defended the auction, saying that all money raised will go toward protecting the species that has been the target of a widespread poaching scourge, as rhino horn is believed to hold medicinal value in certain cultures.  

He also said the rhino that the winner will be allowed to hunt is old, male and non-breeding - and that the animal was likely to be targeted for removal anyway because it was becoming aggressive and threatening other wildlife.

However, considering that only 4 000 black rhinos remain in the wild, world-wide (down from 70 000 in the 1960s) and less than 1 800 in Namibia, one can’t help but feel that culling even one of these rare creatures is making a critical dent in the population.

Talk to us – do you think the fact that an animal is old, aggressive and non-breeding makes it okay to hunt an endangered species? Or is the US Safari Club sensationalising the act, forcing society to take a look at its ugly reflection.

What alternative fate would you suggest for the rhino in question?

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Read more on:    animals  |  rhino poaching  |  travel  |  travel south africa

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