First American in 30 Years Imports Black Rhino Trophy Kill
David K. Reinke claims he is committed to saving the endangered black rhinoceros – so much so that the Madison businessman traveled to Namibia where he contributed nearly $200,000 to a trust fund for the opportunity to shoot and kill one during a canned hunt organized by Thormählen and Cochran Safaris.
Reinke, CEO of Liberty Parts Team, a Madison printer parts wholesale company, claims his hunting actually contributes to the conservation of the species, of which only about 4,000 are left in the wild, by reducing fighting injuries and deaths among male rhinos and encouraging rhino reproduction.
Now Reinke wants his trophy – a 34-year-old sterile male black rhino he gunned down with a .375 H&H Magnum rifle in 2009 – back home with him. He claims to have donated the meat to local Namibians, and in grand trophy hunter fashion, objectifies his kill by saying, “It should go in a museum…It’s very historic.”
Let’s set aside this illogical rationalization and glorification of hunting as a means of conservation for a second. Perhaps most appalling is that The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with equally-surprising support from the World Wildlife Foundation, granted Reinke’s request to import the black rhino trophy kill – making Reinke the first American in 30 years to import a hunted black rhino into the United States.
This approval has catalyzed serious backlash from the animal protection and anti-hunting communities. Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said, “It’s only a selfish and self-interested person who shoots one of the biggest, rarest, and most remarkable animals in the world for bragging rights, pushing that species one step closer to extinction.”
But the World Wildlife Foundation has a different take on Reinke’s perceived contributions to conservation: “When rhinos, or other species, are harvested from communal conservancies in Namibia, a portion of the revenue goes to the conservancy from which the animal orginated,” Matt Lewis, WWF African species expert, said in a statement. “This lucrative financial return conveys the value of rhinos to the community, thereby providing incentives for effective wildlife management, anti-poaching efforts, and for greater resources to be allocated toward these goals.”
Interesting acquiescence, especially since canned trophy hunting also happens to be big business. Thormählen and Cochran Safaris is one of many companies that gives the wealthy the opportunity to shoot endangered and exotic animals such as giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, cheetahs, and other creatures in an enclosed (see: trapped) setting for the right price. They even boast an online Trophy Room that will turn your stomach.
Reinke makes other claims that he has helped rhinos survive – including a baby white rhino he described was rescued from a warthog hole in South Africa. He said he spent several thousand dollars to make sure it was nursed back to health. Where is that baby rhino? Reinke believes it is now in a zoo somewhere.
This all sounds like hogwash to us, but the real question is, with trophy hunters providing monetary support to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars for the opportunity to shoot at exotic animals in a protected setting, aren’t there better outlets for that money?
Perhaps David Reinke could be persuaded to use his wealth to open a sanctuary that truly allows these animals to live out their lives in safety. Or, if he’s looking for a something emblematic of his misplaced values and wealth, might we suggest a sports car?
Source: FDL Reporter
Photo Credit: Shutterstock