Hunting an Endangered Species

Recently while reading the news, a story about hunting an endangered species caught my eye. The hunt is supposedly a method of conservation in which they auction off the right to hunt endangered African Black Rhinoceros. The hunt is targeted towards aggressive males whom can no longer breed, thought are aggressively territorial and harming young males who are at their mating prime. There are 5 permits for the hunt every year but have never left the country of Namibia until the Dallas Safari Club (a conservation group in Texas) got access to it. The money received in the auction will goes towards conservation efforts in Africa on the African Black Rhino (Merchant and Graczyk 2014).

The particular population of Black Rhinos in Namibia are more of a desert dwelling animal, and have the largest free ranging population of all rhinoceros species. The population was hunted to near extinction in the 1960’s, and 1970’s but when conservation efforts took place in the late 1980’s the population began to rebound. The population was severely impacted due to the hunters were after the horns and mature males were the primary target (Brodie et al. 2011). On top of hunting a main cause of decline was also caused by habitat loss through development by settlers, though since being placed on the endangered species list, Brodie et al. (2011) have observed of the 1992 till 2005 that the population is increasing at a slow but stable rate of 1% per year.

Populations have been increasing at slow rates since conservation took over, but the underlying problem which has been seen is the dominant males which are the targets of yearly hunts. The issues have to be dealt with but calls the question is there a more ethical way to deal with the issue? Though it was the first year it was tried through international auction, the money made and greater than previous years once opened to an international market. If this international auction continues year after year, will this conservation effort turn into a charity trophy hunt? Taking into account how close these rhinos came to extinction, there should really be a more ethical way of managing aggressive males who can no longer mate.

Word Count: 363

Chris Jackson / Getty Images

African Black Rhinoceros
(Image courtesy of The National Post/Chris Jackson Getty Images)

Brodie, J. F., Muntifering, J., Hearn, M., Loutit, B., Loutit, R., Brell, B., Uri-Khob, S., Leader-Williams, N., and du-Preez, P. 2011. Population recovery of black rhinocerouses in north-west Namibia following poaching. Animal Conservation. 14(4):354-362.
Available:   (accessed January 15th 2014)

Merchant, N. and Graczyk, M. 2014. Outrage as black rhino hunt permit sold for $350, 000 at Dallas Safari Club auction. National Post.
Available:   (accessed January 15th 2014)


18 thoughts on “Hunting an Endangered Species

  1. Kris- this topic sounds very controversial especially because at first it seems odd that people are allowed to hunt an endangered species. I think that if this hunting was very regulated it could work but it would be important to ensure that the hunters aren’t killing younger rhinos or going over their limit

  2. This is definitely one of those conservation examples where the ethical dilemma comes into play. Should we be killing animals for the good of others? I’m not sure.

  3. To me, this is wrong. If they are critically endangered because of hunting, it doesn’t make sense to auction them off for hunting regardless of where the money goes. If a person is willing to pay that much money to hunt the animal, they should be willing to pay that much money into their conservation effort anyways.

  4. Like the picture! Also think it is very important to pay special concern to hightly endangered species and question the methods expressed here.

  5. It is so sad what happened to the Black Rhinos. I feel we need to use it as a cautionary tail of what can happen if conservation efforts are not made and maintained.

  6. Wow I had no clue about the hunting of aggressive males, quite the moral dilemma if it could potentially help out the entire species.
    Do you know the stats on how many African Black Rhinos are left today? For some reason I thought they were extinct already…or is that a different subspecies?

  7. I agree! There must be a more ethical way to deal with this issue. Thinking of what the future holds for these rhinos if this continues makes me a bit uneasy 😦

  8. I just can’t understand why anyone would ever want to shoot a black rhino, or any animal for reasons other than subsistence……it just boggles my mind. On a positive note, at least the population in increasing a little bit every year.

  9. I think the idea of auctioning permits to hunt the non-reproducing aggressive mature male rhinos is a fairly good idea. As long as the conservationists have thoroughly made sure that the rhinos no are able to breed, this auction has potential. Aggressive males can be a danger to young rhinos and people. Also, the conservation effort gets funds, and it is a better option than culling. Also, a supply of non-illegal ivory may help reduce the demand for poaching.

  10. I see how the rhinos could be dangerous but there must be a better way to deal with the problem. I think game hunting is so stupid too. So you can take down an animal with a gun and all your equipment and guides, some sport. Do they hunt the rhinos for sport or do they end up selling the ivory in some way?

  11. I am glad somebody did a blog on this I personally think auctioning off the rights to hunt an animal in the name of conservation sends a mixed message.

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