By Ray Sasser
The Dallas Safari Club has created an international debate over its plans to auction a hunt for a black rhinoceros, a species listed as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Wildlife experts estimate about 5,000 black rhinos roam the wilds of Africa, 1,795 of them in Namibia, where the auction hunt will be. The Convention on International Trade has approved a sport-hunting quota of five black rhinos annually in Namibia and five in South Africa. Permits are typically issued to a safari outfitter, who sells them to hunting clients.
Safari Club executive director Ben Carter said the auction is a bold idea only because it involves an endangered species.
“Hunters have been paying for most conservation programs in the U.S. for many, many years,” Carter said. “But this has never been applied to an endangered species. It’s a big, bold idea, and it’s new. We expected a certain level of surprise, scrutiny and criticism.”
Carter said the permit, to be auctioned at the group’s January convention, could bring as much as $1 million for Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism rhino program.
Only an old, post-breeding bull will be targeted, he said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said science supports the idea that limited culls of older males can benefit a local population.
The Fish and Wildlife Service called Namibia’s rhino program outstanding. The World Wildlife Fund also endorses the concept of selectively removing old male rhinos.
London-based Save the Rhino lists the species’ top threats as poaching, habitat loss and political conflict. Rhino horns are valued in Southeast and East Asia for traditional medicines and also are used as handles on ornamental daggers. More....