International Rhino Foundation Comments on Dallas Safari Club Auction of a Permit to Hunt a Black Rhino 29 October 2013
Much media attention has been directed this past week to the Dallas Safari Club’s intention to auction off a permit to hunt a black rhino in Namibia, the proceeds to go towards preserving this magnificent and critically endangered species. The International Rhino Foundation does not condone the hunt, but recognizes that it is legal under Namibian and United States law, and under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). We respect Namibia’s efforts to maintain a healthy rhino population as well as raise money for the important work of conserving the species. That said, we note that the fate of one hunted rhino pales in comparison to the nearly 800 rhinos lost to illegal poaching in South Africa alone this year and to escalating poaching losses in Namibia and other range countries where rhinos once thrived but now are barely hanging on.
The International Rhino Foundation is an apolitical, scientifically-oriented conservation organization that funds and operates rhino conservation programs in Africa and Asia. The sale of a critically endangered species for a trophy hunt has brought forth a range of emotions and arguments. It is a complex and multi-faceted issue with the following points to consider.
We believe that the facts pertaining to intra-species fighting as a justification for the permit auction are overstated. Young bulls naturally displace old bulls without human intervention (in normal, viable rhino populations) to maximize the ratio of effective male breeders in those populations. The issue is more about what happens to the naturally displaced old bulls that no longer are breeding. In a strictly genetic sense, they can be considered non-essential to population survival and, in situations where the rhinos are stocked at or near an area’s ecological carrying capacity (which ideally they should not be), then these bulls may be eating browse that younger animals need to maintain reproduction and to minimize loss of genetic diversity in the population.
Old bulls that lose body condition are sometimes gored in interactions with younger bulls when there is a high level of competition for food resources. More....