Thursday, October 31, 2013

Texas Hunting Club Auctions Endangered Black Rhinoceros for Hunting

Black rhinoceros

The rhino has been suffering drastically over the past few years in its African homeland due to poaching and the demand for its horn in Asia's black market. Across Africa, hundreds of these majestic beasts have fallen victim in the bloodthirsty hands of poachers who are infamous for being part of global criminal syndicates that function in a similar way as organized crime. This ongoing and rampant bloodshed even led to the extinction of the western black rhinoceros two years ago in Cameroon. In addition, South Africa has seen some of the highest casualties of rhinos than any where else in Africa. But now, there appears to be another threat looming on the horizon that could further contribute in the continuous decimation of Africa's rhinos. It is a Texas-based hunting group known as the Dallas Safari Club. This international organization, which is comprised of hunters and wildlife enthusiasts, has recently been reported auctioning off a hunting permit to hunt the critically endangered black rhinoceros from the government of Namibia. According to the organization's executive director Ben Carter, the purpose of this movement is about saving the black rhino, of which there are roughly 5,055 animals. The group further added that hundred percent of the profits made from the sale of the permit, which is estimated to be auctioned off for $250,000 to $ 1 million, will go towards the conservation trust fund for the black rhinos of Namibia. However, conservation groups argued that the organization's claim to benefit the rhinos was based false logic. According to Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), it would make more sense to wildlife enthusiasts to bestow money only for the rhino conservation than to kill one of the animals. He further added that the Humane Society is planning to implore the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to prevent them from distributing an extra permit that would allow a hunter to bring back a rhino carcass.
A pair of black rhinos in the Mkuze Game Reserve in South Africa

It is absolutely appalling and disheartening beyond belief that as Africa's rhino population continues to suffer from the rampant poaching crisis, new individuals respond to this message in much the same way as poachers do. That is, instead of helping the rhino in jeopardy by either donating money to conservation groups or joining forces with them on the front lines in an effort to save the species, they do the opposite by providing bidders an opportunity to hunt the rhino for sport and donate the money they acquired to the conservation trust fund aimed at saving the species. My view on the Dallas Safari Club is that it is claiming to help the black rhinoceros, but in reality, it is further contributing to the downfall of its population along with poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. While it has been reported that the Humane Society is going to petition the Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent them from issuing permit to hunt the black rhino, I strongly believe that the Namibian government should also disallow the Dallas Safari Club for carrying out this method of "conservation" if they are to protect their local rhino populations. Similarly, other countries that individually house Africa's rhino populations should bar this hunting organization from allowing international hunters to hunt rhinos and other highly endangered species. Furthermore, a rhinoceros labeled as "counterproductive" should not be taken out of a population by hunting. Instead, it should rather be kept separate until it dies of natural causes.

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