Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a letter to the Dallas Safari Club, denouncing their planned auction of a hunting license and export permit for a trophy hunted African black rhino—a highly endangered species. The auction will take place at the Safari Club’s annual Convention and Expo in Dallas between January 9 and 12, 2014. The export permit is the first of its kind to be sold outside of Namibia, and the Safari Club’s auction is the first in the U.S. to offer a chance to hunt an endangered species for sport. ALDF plans to closely monitor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services issuance of the permit to import the slaughtered rhinoceros and to ensure that the permit is proper.
This week’s Convention is estimated to bring in proceeds of up to a million dollars for the Safari Club. Although the group claims its primary intent is conservation of the critically endangered black rhino, fundraising proceeds from the Convention consistently go towards hunting and political advocacy of hunting interests. International laws protect endangered animals in large part by decreasing the profit motive of killing and selling those animals and their parts. The Safari Club’s auction will likely result in increased exposure and big dividends for the group, and Convention sponsors and exhibitors, and could set a dangerous precedent for similar hunting clubs seeking to profit from selling rare permits to kill endangered animals.
Due to past over-hunting and poaching, only a few thousand black rhinos remain in the wild. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the black rhino population has decreased by more than 90% in the past three decades. Rhino poaching often involves the use tranquilizers to immobilize the animal and a chainsaw to remove the horn while the animal is still alive. During the “trophy” hunt made possible by the Dallas Safari Club’s auction, Namibian trackers will guide the winning hunter to their quarry, where they can easily kill an animal the size of a car at close range, in order to stuff him for display.
“We will not stand by while the body of a dead, endangered rhino is imported into the United States,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Dallas Safari Club should respect the intent of international regulations that attempt to conserve and protect endangered animals who should be preserved in the wild, not stuffed by a taxidermist for a Texan’s trophy room.”
ALDF’s letter to the Dallas Safari Club is available upon request.