PHOTOGRAPH BY KARL STROMAYER, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE VIA AP
Published January 10, 2014
The Dallas Safari Club plans to auction a chance for one hunter to shoot an endangered black rhinoceros in Namibia. Animal advocates are expressing anger at the weekend auction, and a few have allegedly made death threats against the club.
The auction is being held during the safari club's 2014 convention at the Dallas Convention Center this week, and the winner will likely be announced on Saturday evening. (See also: "Animal Conservation.")
The club says 100 percent of auction proceeds, which could total an estimated $1 million, will go to support the Conservation Trust Fund for Namibia's Black Rhino. The Dallas Safari Club has previously argued that the hunt will help wildlife officials manage the endangered rhinos and will bring in much-needed funds for conservation efforts.
But not everyone is happy. On Thursday, the club says it contacted the FBI after receiving "death threats" from animal activists over the auction. Ben Carter, executive director of the club, told the media he has gotten at least a dozen emails threatening his family unless he calls off the auction.
Some of the emails said, "For every rhino you kill, we will kill a member of the club," Carter told NBC News.
The convention is expected to draw 45,000 people and is being held with heightened security. An FBI spokesperson confirmed that the agency is monitoring the situation.
Earlier this week, Jeff Flocken, the North America regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, wrote in a blog post on NationalGeographic.com that "the idea of creating a bidding war for the opportunity to gun down one of the last of a species ostensibly in the name of conservation is perverse and dangerous to buy into."
Flocken wrote, "If an animal like the rare black rhinoceros is worth the most with a price on its head, what possible incentive does this provide range countries and local people to move the species toward recovery when the biggest buck can be made short-term by selling permits to kill them to the highest bidders?"
He added that there are an estimated 1,800 black rhinos remaining in Namibia, out of a worldwide population of only 5,055. The total figure represents a decline of about 96 percent over the past century, driven largely by loss of habitat and poaching, and in recent years to support a market for the animals' horns in Asia.
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Namibia is allowed to grant five hunting permits for black rhinos a year. Historically, most of those were sold locally, and this is the first time an auction for one has been held in the U.S.
Our Readers Respond
Our October 28 article on the controversy and science of the rhino hunt auction stirred up a strong response from our readers, who left 76 comments on the story.
Richard McCort wrote, "Even if it is taking out a nonproductive individual so therefore will have no impact on population dynamics, the fact is that it sends a message that it is ok to take another life for entertainment, and that certainly represents an abhorrent level of morality by mankind."
Alfred Korir wrote, "As a safari guide in Kenya, I would not like to take tourists out on safari who would be killing animals in the name of conservation."
But Hermann Meyeridricks criticized those who oppose the auction. "It exposes the elitist and preservationist mindset of people who do not live in Africa and do not understand the situation on the ground over here," he wrote. "Controlled, legal hunting does not pose any threat to Africa's wildlife--there is no scientific evidence to suggest this."
Criticizing animal advocate groups that oppose the auction, El Mecanico wrote, "Unfortunately all those people like PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] and HSUS [the Humane Society of the U.S.] don't have a clue of how nature works but they know how to exploit to their benefit the Bambi's mom death."
Learn more about rhino conservation in "Rhino Wars" in National Geographic magazine.
Old bull rhino, beyond breeding age. Mater of fact the old bulls have been defeated in breeding battles and now its time to remove them from the population before they contract an illness and infest the rest of the herd.
You aints hunter could have pooled your money and bought the hunt, but you DID NOT!!
If you acted on knowledge and not by emotion you could better understand true Conservation and not the PRESERVATIONIST ideology.
Wouldn't it be just as "entertaining" and much more rewarding for the winner of this raffle to just settle for a Photo Safari, and donate the Trophy to NG for Publication ?
Okay, put aside the money that the safari says it is going toward the conservation effects. The safari club is trying to justify killing a animal that other animal groups are trying to save. The safari reasons make no sense and once again its against better judgement. Would it be the same if someone said they are going to kill the Rhino, cut off the horn and sell it on the black market for 300k, trying to rationalize that the animal is old and going to die soon, make some money now fto help protect them? Safari clubs will try to come up with any idea to try and make it seem right. Here is an idea, donate 300k to the conservation like WWF or any well known animal group. Move the Rhino to a sanctuary where it can live out its life in peace. Have the Rhino named by a sponsor instead of killing it. I can't understand hunting any animal. I would love for a hunter to explain to me what fun it is to kill a defenseless animal when your standing 30ft away? These safari club members are just plain jokes of a human being. You want to do something to test your manhood, get into a boxing ring, shooting a defenseless animal why? To sport a trophy? I would be embarrassed to say I kill a defenseless animal, once again you want to test a person manhood, do something daring, sky diving, scuba diving, boxing, race car speedway. I also hear the hunter has two daughters. Here is a little story, please follow. Daddy, why are you going to kill that endangered animal, at school we learned there isn't many of them left. Well honey, its old and it doesn't make babies anymore!. Yeah, but daddy grandpop is old and doesn't make babies we don't kill him!!! Peace out Mikeyboy
So if you are poor, you can go to jail by killing a bald eagle. But if you are rich, you can use conservation as an excuse to kill a black rhino.
Are you kidding me get a life,if that's all your worried about is killing a defenseless indangered animal you need to take a good long look at yourself.Why don't you just donate the money and go out and take the Rhino on bare handed but I guess the winner isn't man enough to try that.
More money then brain,I hope who ever wins it comes back to haunt then forever.
The Associated Press published an article in The Los Angeles Times today, January 13, 2014 that the hunt permit sold at auction in Dallas, Texas for $350,000.00. How do we stop this? Venting on FB is NOT going to save these Black Rhino's. I've sent this article to 60 Minutes requesting coverage. Any other ideas - Please!
* What is the date of the hunt?
I find it pretty disgraceful that these people are using the word 'conservation' & 'kill' in the same breath? How disgusting these people are - who are they kidding here ? If an animal is endangered why in gods earth would you have an auction to go out & murder it? In the name of 'Sport' no less!
Question : This safari club are stipulating that all money raised will go on conservation efforts? But one cannot conserve an animal if it becomes extinct!
Eco-Tourism will generate money for the area, taking tourists to go & see these majestic animals, alive, in the wild will bring in money for Namibia, so there is no need to murder them! Pretty soon there will be no more rhinos, elephants, gorillas or chimps left in Africa, then our children will have to learn about extinct animals from the history books. Our planet is in the mess it is in because of 'Man' & their greed & downright disregard for our earth & mother nature!
What cowards these so called humans are to hide in the thickets & bushes & then from a safe distance of course, so as not to harm a hair on their own head. BLOW the brains out of an animals head who was doing nothing to anyone!! You call this conservation?
Maybe the money would be better spent sending these idiots back to school so as to educate themselves. Hopefully they might understand & learn what the definition of the word "ENDANGERED" actually means!
Who are these people to put a price on an endangered animals life, for fun & for sport? How do they sleep at night? How the hell are these auctions legal anyway?
One can see how passionate people can get over these precious animals & maybe if the hunter actually became the hunted, their warped & sadistic views might change a tad! Hopefully before the black rhinos becomes extinct & join the very LONG list of animals made extinct by MAN!
To sell ANY animals life, let alone an endangered one - for a sport, or for a profit, just shows the entire world who the REAL animals are here!!
The killing of these innocent animals has NOT a thing to do with conservation...it's about cowards who do it for the thrill and greed of some of countries filling their pockets...it's not the 4 legs you need to fear...it's the 2. Man, in time will self destruct...MAN IS THE BEAST!!!
Well if all you people opposing this really want to make a difference put a large amount of money together and donate it to a reliable conservation society focused of saving the rhinos who may use that money to cull out an old aggressive male or two as well as train and hire rangers.
I can see the fear of governments auctioning off hunts for endangered animals but unless money can be raised some other way I believe its a risk we have to take. If this hunt didn't happen the type of bull that will be targeted may kill other younger bulls and poachers that could be stopped with the money raised from this auction would most likely kill multiple rhinos and the global herd would be worse off.
I don't think this should become a common thing because that would increase the potential for corruption and misuse of the money raised but I believe doing it this once may be positive. Just think of all the attention this has brought to endangered rhinos informing lots of people.
As far as people threatening peoples families over this is terrible and its sad to see people stoop that low.
I live in Dallas and have been to many Safari Club shows. They're abominations and full of men who deeply fear they have small genitals. The cowards, of course, use huge firearms to kill animals. Most of these "hunters" wouldn't have a clue how to really combat an animal in the wild. These elite, wealthy "hunters" get huge ego boosts when they pretend to go into dangerous lands to hunt dangerous animals. The truth is, nearly every hunt is highly controlled, with backup shooters at the ready in case the weak white wussy misses (or soils his pants). After going to over 15 of these Safari Club shows in Dallas, I can tell you that it's a group of profoundly disturbed individuals who love to kill animals in order to somehow make themselves feel powerful and "manly". It's pathetic. They use every dishonest trick in the book to make hunting appear not only needed...but HUMANE. This rhino hunt is just another contrived attempt to make the SC look like it cares about animals. I truly hope the black rhino kills the person who goes to hunt it. Now THAT would be a just ending to this nightmare.
They also forgot to mention the reason for the hunt is the said animal is responsible for killing multiple juvenile Black Rhinos, thus it would also be helping to protect new Black Rhinos
For sure killing an animal -whatever animal- in the name of conservation is a pretty preposterous idea.I suppose it makes sense in an American context -I mean with your gun culture and everything- but to me it sounds as a paradox.
The comments on here are pretty disgusting, with multiple posters suggesting the Dallas Safari Club members should be killed/bombed/hunted as well as buying into stereotypes such as the Texas "redneck". Its easy to demonize those who you oppose, but this is precisely the worst quality of human nature. Take a look in the mirror...
As far as hunting the rhino I see two viewpoints:
(1) Should we allow a couple managed hunts for old, non-reproducing males who are so aggressive they may kill other rhinos? The money from such hunts would provide much needed funds to help protect the rest of the rhino population (apparently some commenters are convinced that this money will be misappropriated, despite having no evidence for this). These males may need to be culled anyway to protect the rest of the rhino population.
(2) Does any hunting for rhinos send the wrong message since they are an endangered species? The success of the auction for the permit may simply show poachers that the most profitable use for rhinos is to hunt them. This is deeply concerning.
While I'm sympathetic to the 2nd argument, I think that managed/limited hunting that funds conservation efforts is probably the best management strategy. Those who oppose the hunting because they find it personally repugnant are missing the forest for the trees. Rhinos are critically endangered (96% decline in last 100 years!) and funds are needed to protect them. In this situation harming an individual (non-reproducing/aggressive) rhino helps protect the rest of the population. Such choices need to be made if we are serious about conservation.
barbaric, backward rednecks! to kill an endangered species to conserve them? its so so wrong, I hope this is stopped! unbelievable!
He said the Namibia hunt will focus on an older,
non-breeding male with a pattern of aggression toward other rhinos.
This was reiterated by Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, this week who said that the government was not violating any laws.
He also said government would stick to its programme because it is being done in a sustainable manner, which brings money for future conservation initiatives.
“Rhinos are our resources and we not violating any laws. They must just understand that we will continue doing what we are doing and they should also know that with our rhino population growing, harvesting is part of our programme,” he said.
I feel that I cannot responsibly make a decision about this because as a middle class north american, I am not in a position to understand the complexitiy of the issue. What i do know is that most anti poacher organizations are underfunded and if they dont get the proper funding, their rangers will become poachers.
How does the Dallas Safari Club have the right to kill one of these? Does Namibia issue permits to kill them and how did they get one?
Everyone and everything has their price. Despite the claims that the money for this licence will go towards conservation in Africa I think many people now realise that most of it will go into various peoples' pockets - especially in Africa.
Secondly, I can't understand anyone enjoying the act of sighting an animal with a gun and then simply killing it. Those of course are the very people who pay the money - and take it!
I don't understand why anyone would justify killing an endangered animal, much less any animal, to make money. It's worse to me that this is the solution to helping rhinos...? Can anyone help me understand? ANYONE!?!?
The wealthy are getting more and more less human. Shame on them, if I bid on something like this I wouldn't call myself a man, why is it not televised if it is so great, doesn't the coward want to come forward and show his pathetic face. Just saw a man on TV saying the Rhino would be an old one and basically not useful to society, the man talking was old himself so probably pretty useless to our human socitty too.
I would argue with the title--that the Dallas Safari Club promotes conservation. They promote increases in game animals which occasionally benefit other species. Yu never hear of SCI opposing water grabs in the west which decimate habitat. I have never heard of them challenging mining. They look in the short term.
I think we need to dissociate a trophies from animals. As long as people hunt for trophy or ego, our predators who make our ecosystems healthy are at risk. I like the "I am not rug" series by the WWF to decrease tiger poaching. When we allow someone to buy an endangered animal to kill it, we send the wrong message. Admittedly, it ay bring in a lot of money in the short term, but it is a poor long term solution. We need to change attitudes. This only reinforces a trophy kill. For instance, China or the US could have sold all of the ivory instead of crushing it and sent that money to elephant conservation. But, everyone understands, that sends the wrong message. My understanding is South Africa's rhinos are not doing well secondary to poaching and they allow hunts as well. If you want to help decrease poaching, I think Damien Mander (IAPF) has the right idea.
I wish the article elaborated more about what/why the money is needed/will be used, or even included a link to donate to the organization. I also would have appreciated more information about how conservation functions on the ground in Namibia. Are the 5 hunts/year considered necessary? Do they target non-productive/aging/pest animals? How much money does the sale of 5 permits generate? More than private donations? Where are the statistics to back up the claims that legal hunting reduces poaching? Or any statistics/information in general? How much money goes towards actual conservation efforts, versus the pockets of corrupt government officials? Will someone from the US actually be able to import a black rhino trophy?
I'm left with far more questions than answers. And I'm also disappointed in that very little facts or scientific evidence is presented, and instead this article just relies solely on hot-headed opinions. This could have been far more educational and explain an extremely complex topic more wholly. It's lazy journalism to just present what someone says as fact, and consider it balanced by having "both sides" ignoring facts that may direct the reader towards the truth.
It is my opinion there is a simple answer that would resolve this dispute, I offer a quote to clarify my stand:" Animals give me more pleasure through the viewfinder of a camera than they ever did in the crosshairs of a gunsight. And after I've finished "shooting," my unharmed victims are still around for others to enjoy. I have developed a deep respect for animals. I consider them fellow living creatures with certain rights that should not be violated any more than those of humans." Jimmy Stewart
I certainly don't agree with the death threats, but honestly, how tiny does one's penis have to be to not feel like a whole man until you've gunned down a black rhino? And I'm speaking as a man who grew up hunting and fishing. But I fail to see the point in this. Whatcha gonna do with it, a**hole-who-wins? I don't believe you eat rhino. It's not like it's going to be a challenge. You sit in the back of a jeep, they drive you up within a hundred or so feet, and you kill it. Felling bigger now?
I love NAT GEO it sounds like a fair trade one for the many, and more then likely it will help a lot of wild life conservation in Namibia.
Animal rights people they kill me, and they just may kill me..
I don't have much on this topic, but it's just funny..
Laugh about it..
Not sure how to feel about this...
Not that I agree with the idea of auctioning off any kind of permit for the sake of hunting for sport, the fault does not lie with the Dallas Safari Club. This is a government sanctioned hunt by Namibia that has been in place for a couple of years now. If there is an opportunity to raise greater amounts of money by having Americans bid on this rather than locals then why not? The killing of 5 Black Rhinos this year is going to happen regardless. Make the most of their deaths by getting as much money as possible.
There must be alternatives to helping the rhino population other than killing, such as relocating the rhinos that threaten the younger ones, selling such rhinos to other conservations areas or zoos, protest the Namibia government's decision to auction off such permits in the first place, etc....
Having said that, perhaps Americans, who see themselves as world leaders in pretty much everything, should lead by example and not participate in an opportunity to put a dollar value on the life of any creature, especially one as endangered as the Black Rhino.
Woke up this morning to news about Dempsey, the boxer, thought lost but saved. The story about the wedding ring being found[in Ill.] when couple were unfreezing kitchen drain in time for previous owners 40th anniversary, nice. Ahh, a nice way to start the day. Then, BANG!!! I just couldn't believe it. [As my sweetie would say]," What are you thinking?!?!" Then the stories returned to the normal depressing fodder. [As my friends The Young Adults sang] "It's A Complex World". Please sign on line petition against this planned slaughter. Peace, Don
I've always found NatGeo to be high quality with great journalism on interesting topics.
However I think you've failed to educate your audience of the details on this one, as evidenced by the uninformed emotional response on your facebook page.
"Find a place to move them"
"ecosystem will take care of everything"
"Trophy hunting encourages poaching" etc etc etc.
With some more indepth analysis you could have educated these people on how these systems work. Instead you've just courted "Texan red-necks" sillyness.
@michael nush I think you are missing two important points: (1) the rhino is beyond breeding age, (2) older male rhinos are aggressive and routinely kill juveniles. Therefore, if this male is not culled he will likely kill other juvenile rhinos who are future breeders. Since this is an endangered species, we want them to breed as much as possible. The rhino should definitely be removed, and auctioning a hunt is one way that would also raise money for conservation. Unfortunately no one has stepped forward to pay $300,000 to save this individual rhino. There is a question over whether the hunt signals that rhinos are most valued when they are dead (definitely do not want to send this message), but ultimately this is a management decision.
As far as the hunters question I can address that as well. I don't think it makes me manly or brave to hunt a "defenseless animal". I eat what I kill and it lives a far more humane life in the wild than locked up in a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. The only meat I eat is what I hunt myself and I guarantee my ecological footprint is far smaller because of it.
Additionally, deer no longer have natural predators so their populations need to be managed. Without hunters, their populations would explode and drastically change forest ecosystems with their grazing. Additionally, I challenge you notion they are defenseless animals. As many hunter can attest they are quite wiley and have an amazing sense of smell. Going hunting is no guarantee of getting a deer. Moreover, hunting connects people to nature and the outdoors, something sorely missing in todays world. Its also a great bonding experience, chance to slow down and reflect on life (lots of waiting), and watch other animals. Many hunters are staunch conservationists and environmentalists. To stereotype them otherwise would be a great disservice.
@David Salverson Somehow I think a man with 350 thousand dollars is a bit smarter than you. YOU could have bought the hunt, but did you? Oh wait living in you mother basement.
@Kaden Foster You dont, do you realize the Namibia govenrment is doing this to remove old beyond breeding age bull that can injure young breeders,
@p benson Yes it is CONSERVATION, not the PRESERVATION you are confused.
@p benson Well despite your personnel distaste for killing animals (which I can sympathize with, especially an endangered animal) this is actually about conservation. The overall population of an endangered species is much more important than a specific individual. The individual they plan to hunt can no longer breed and is a threat to other juvenile rhinos. Not killing the rhino actually harms the overall population more (counterintuitive I know). The right conservation strategy is the cull this individual. Auctioning the hunt to raise money seems logical, however it does raise the philosophical issue of if we value rhinos most when they are dead.
Either way its a much more nuanced argument than you present. Not that I would personally want to hunt the rhino.
@SOPHIE K. Way to drastically simplify the argument. As Trevor pointed out above ^ the rhino in question likely will reduce the overall population if it is not removed (it is no longer breeding and is removing breeding animals). But I guess that is just the US "gun culture" and has nothing to do with conservation management or population ecology...
Just because you personally find killing an animal repulsive does not mean it is not the right management decision.
Nevermind, I see that Namibia issues 5 permits, but its hard to imagine that Dallas Safari Club legitimately got one through fair channels.
Imagine for a moment that a corrupt official isn't getting any money from private nature reserves but instead gets their money from Chinese miners. How long do you think the habitat would last with the highest bidder being a miner?
I too can't understand trophy hunting, however I applaud efforts to utilise the input of such people for positive outcomes.
@Chelsea FloodAs mentioned in my post Chelsea everything has it's price and there are too many people pocketing the money to worry about an animal or a species.
@catherine s.Texans are basically idiots who believe in the death penalty. Murder is sport and elitism for them.
Do they target non-productive/aging/pest animals?
Some operators haven't done the best at husbandry but this would be the
goal of any safari hoping to be long-term sustainable. Well managed and
reputable ones are good at this. There might be some rouge operators
that don't understand their job properly.
Where are the statistics to back up the claims that legal hunting reduces poaching?
Not sure about statistics, there are some good numbers for similar CAMPFIRE program in Zimbabwe. Most safari hire all the local poachers and turn them into game warden/rangers. They are then paid to have responsibility for protecting the animals and improving the habitat.
How much money does the sale of 5 permits generate? More than private donations?
More than PETA or Humane Society spends on killing dogs....
How much money goes towards actual conservation efforts, versus the pockets of corrupt government officials?
It's spread around, everyone gets a piece of the pie to keep them satisfied with undeveloped habitat. Including corrupt officials, who have control of land.
Will someone from the US actually be able to import a black rhino trophy?
um... Wasn't able to confirm this yesterday but I believe they can as it's all legal.
These links may help, there is another great article somewhere that goes into the history and just how much numbers have rebounded since preservationism got out of the way. Things were really bad there for awhile with African people seeing "the big 5" as a bane to their existance as disconnected westerners told them how to run their lives while stealing their land.
World-Wide Fund for Nature report estimates that CAMPFIRE has increased
household income in rural Zimbabwe by 15 to 25 per cent. Wildlife
conservation and husbanding is now the principal source of cash for
rural communities such as Tsholotsho on the southern boundary of Hwange
National Park. No indigenous species has become extinct in Zimbabwe: indeed, populations are stable or growing.
As a result of the CAMPFIRE initiative, Zimbabwean villagers have dug water-holes and arranged food deliveries for elephants in times of drought (a truly remarkable turn-around from the days when elephants were regarded as a dangerous nuisance). They have also reduced tree cutting and annual burning of grazing lands to assist in wildlife management; and instead of just shooting or trapping wild animals to protect themselves, they have erected solar-powered electric fences to protect agricultural land and villages. Locals are trained as game wardens, scouts and tourist guides and assist in local wildlife management.
Money from tourism and trophy hunting is used to pay compensation to local people whose livestock or crops are damaged by wildlife. Earnings are also directed towards building basic village infrastructure such as irrigation systems, mills, schools and hospitals.
Far more land is now devoted to game parks in Zimbabwe since landowners were given the privileges and responsibilities of ownership. In 1975 17,000 sq km of private land was given over to wildlife; by 1990 this figure had risen to 30,000 sq km. As a result there has been a marked increase in the populations of elephant, rhino, crocodile, ostrich, leopard and cheetah."
@Scott WatsonWhy would you relocate a Rhino from a profitable sustainable safari reserve with great biodiversity and well managed habitat, to a failing zoo from the past era? They are already on land that is some of the best sustainably managed in Africa.
So you'd prefer Rhino had no real-world value to anyone who lives with them? That didn't work. Habitat, biodiversity and even the Rhino suffered greatly.
The Yellowstone River's oil spill was the first in U.S. frozen water in two-plus decades.
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