By Shinovene Immanuel
The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Uahekua Herunga, yesterday said he is pleased with the N$3, 7 million the government will receive from a controversial permit that will allow an endangered black rhino to be killed later this year.
"I'm very happy that we will get the N$3,7 for one rhino. That is not a bad price at all. It was a very good result, I hope we will reach a US$1 million record next time," Herunga told The Namibian yesterday.
The permit was auctioned on Saturday for USD 350 000 (N$3,7 million) at a Dallas auction in the US, an event that was clouded with criticisms and death threats from concerned animal right groups.
The minister admitted that there has been criticism over the government's decision to allow the killing of the endangered animal but he added that "we should be allowed as a country to exercise our right to utilise our natural resources sustainably".
Herunga believes that the latest rhino permit sale has also exposed Namibia as a tourist destination, especially to professional wildlife hunters.
The environment minister said there are other permits that will be issued this year to hunt rhinos and buffaloes, but Cabinet, as usual, will have to approve those permits.
Black rhinoceros are internationally considered an endangered species and the World Wildlife Fund says there are less than 5 000 rhino remaining in Africa.
The Dallas Safari Club, which was expecting the permit to bring USD 250,000 to USD1 million at an auction, said the hunt will help in managing the population and provide an underfunded Namibian government cash in the expensive battle against poachers.
The licence allows for the killing of a single, post-breeding bull. Club Executive Director Ben Carter, who declined to name the buyer, was quoted by Reuters yesterday, saying "These bulls no longer contribute to the growth of the population and are in a lot of ways detrimental to the growth of the population because black rhinos are very aggressive and territorial. In many cases, they will kill younger, non-breeding bulls and have been known to kill calves and cows".
Wayne Pacelle, the chief executive officer and president of the Humane Society of the United States, said the group has a general objection to trophy hunting and considers it morally questionable to raise money for conservation by selling permits to kill endangered species.
"If we are going to put a price tag on the most endangered animals in the world, we are going to go down a very dangerous path," Pacelle said.
Not every animal activist is against the permit to kill the rhino.