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.
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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: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.tru.ca/doi/10.1111/j.1469-1795.2010.00434.x/full (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: http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/01/13/outrage-as-black-rhino-hunt-permit-sold-for-350000-at-dallas-safari-club-auction/ (accessed January 15th 2014)