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First American in 30 Years Imports Black Rhino Trophy Kill

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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


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  • Wow, that money will really help a lot of rhinos!

    • Josh

      Yep! By my math, they’ll get $50 each. $50.01 if they divide up the dead one’s share.

  • Josh

    “Rationalization and glorification of hunting as a means of conservation…”

    Really? Hunters represent almost 100 percent of the financial resources, research effort, and physical work driving conservation activities in the United States. Hunting has proven to be not only the most effective means of conservation, but essentially the only one.

    That’s not to say that this rhino thing is obviously positive (or negative for that matter), but your sweeping statement about hunting in general is ridiculous.

  • AshleyannNews

    UGH!! Some people, y’know. Crazy ignorant

  • Southern Fried Scientist

    The full report from US Fish and Wildlife is well worth a read:

    “On March 28, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife issued a permit for the importation of a sport-hunted black rhinoceros trophy taken in Namibia in 2009. The Service granted this permit after an extensive review of Namibia’s black rhino conservation program, in recognition of the role that well-managed, limited sport hunting plays in contributing to the long-term survival and recovery of the black rhino in Namibia.

    The Service cannot and will not allow the importation of sport-hunted trophies of species protected under the Endangered Species Act unless a comprehensive review determines that those trophies are taken as part of a well-managed conservation program that enhances the long-term survival of the species.

    Namibia has been a leader in rhino conservation in Africa, developing a black rhino conservation strategy in 2003 that sets specific goals for range expansion, biological management, species protection, monitoring and other key measures of success. As part of this strategy, Namibia authorized an annual harvest of five post-reproductive male black rhinos.

    The removal of limited numbers of males has been shown to contribute to overall population growth in some areas by reducing fighting injuries and deaths among males, decreasing juvenile mortality and shortening calving intervals. In addition, the Namibian government requires hunters to make a significant contribution to its Game Products Trust Fund for any sport hunting of black rhino. Money accrued from trophy hunting of black rhinos directly funds conservation efforts for the species, and has been used to support annual black rhino counts, improved rhino crime investigation and prosecution, and to ensure the traceability of all rhino horn owned by Namibia. The Trust Fund received a contribution of $175,000 to authorize hunting that resulted in the taking of the 34-year-old male rhino.”

  • Jamie McCroskey

    This is one reason why Namibia wins international awards for conservation and does not have a poaching problem, they are doing things right!

  • A load of double speak, smoke and mirrors, bull- these people who shoot wild animals are pure scum.l

  • Silver Sage Health &

    Reinke is clearly lost in some kind of alternate universe. The hunting of and importation of endangered and protected species is wrong. This kind of behavior makes conservation and sanctuary of many species world wide more difficult. There is nothing glorious about shooting a wild animal; it is the stupid act of small minds who are without souls.

  • RicoDeLarge

    The question I have is: with so much money, why not bring the doomed rhino to a place where people can see a living example of what is supposed to be saved? They look much better alive.

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