We are pushing the rhinoceros, an animal who has roamed the Earth for 50 million years, to the brink of extinction. Save The Rhino reports that while there were 500,000 rhinos across Africa and Asia at the beginning of the 19th century, there are now fewer than 29,000 in the wild. The black rhino, considered critically endangered, has seen a 96% drop in numbers. There are now just 5,055 black rhinos.
As rhino species disappear, conservation efforts are underway, like microchipping rhinos in Kenya in an attempt to prevent poaching or protecting species who have been listed as threatened or endangered. Some groups have a different idea of rhino conservation, like killing a rhinoceros.
The Dallas Safari Club (DSC) will soon auction off the chance to shoot and kill an endangered black rhinoceros in Namibia’s Mangetti National Park. The Government of the Republic of Namibia chose the DSC to receive and auction the hunting permit, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is giving its full support by allowing the rhino “trophy” to be imported into the U.S.
The DSC expects the auction, which will take place at the Club’s next annual convention in January 2014, to bring in up to $750,000. The money will be donated to the Conservation Trust Fund for Namibia’s Black Rhino. Does that sound backwards to you? DSC Executive Director Ben Carter is making an effort to explain why this kill will benefit the black rhinos.
Carter stated, “The whole model of wildlife conservation, of sustainable-use conservation, is that any resource, if it has a value, it will stay there, it will continue to flourish.” He adds, “Black rhinos tend to have a fairly high mortality rate. Generally speaking, out of a population of 2,000, harvesting three rhinos over a couple or three years has no impact on the health of the rhino herd at all.”
The Conservation Trust Fund might do good work to protect Namibia’s remaining 1,800 black rhinos, but wouldn’t it make more sense for people who are truly concerned about the conservation of this species to donate money to the fund? Or another conservation organization that doesn’t allow the killing of an endangered species?
Carter continues, “People are talking about ‘Why don’t you do a photo safari?’ or whatever. Well, that’s great, but people don’t pay for that.” Mr. Carter, I have to point out that many people do, in fact, pay money to go on safaris to see (and not kill) wild animals in Africa. Namibia promotes safaris to see some of its many species of wildlife, and write on their tourism website, “Namibia is the last place on earth where black rhino roam free across communal land.”
If you think there are better ways to help save rhinos, and that they should be shot with a camera and not a gun, you might want to contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and ask them to drop out of this misguided “conservation” attempt. You can also find contact information for Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism and other government offices here.
Photo Credit: Nieuwenhuisen / Shutterstock.com