Africa: Bounty hunting

Namibia is home to almost 2,000 endangered black rhinos, and in order to finance conservation efforts they have been auctioning off permits to hunt one of the animals. They auction off 5 permits a year, and hunting permits have long been a source of income for Namibian conservation efforts. The most recent permit was auctioned off to Texan Corey Knowlton, who has paid $350,000 for the apparent privilege of shooting an ageing male. As black rhinos are protected, he would not have been able to import it, or parts of, back to the US as a trophy without the permission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This permission has since been granted, as they state that the importation of the carcass meets the criteria of the Endangered Species Act as benefiting conservation.

Lucky Mr. Knowlton, who will be able to add to the members of the 120 species he has already killed, and who will no doubt be the toast of the Dallas Safari Club, which ran the auction in the name of rhino conservation.

It seems, however, that the US Fish and Wildlife service were in something of a bind. If they did not grant permission, then that $350,000 would have been withdrawn (it’s “trophy, or it didn’t happen” for these hunter guys, you see), and that very large chunk of money is going towards the conservation of the black rhino in Namibia.

Let’s face it, those who hunt for sport are not interested in the conversation of animals, no matter how they dress it up. It would be easier, surely, to donate the money rather than pay to shoot an endangered animal, and that would make more of a statement that they are committed to conservation. Yet these hunts are supported by Save the Rhino and the WWF, who see them as ways of generating large amounts of funds in a short period of time. It is, at best, a pragmatic decision, but at worst is a Faustian pact with those who seek only to destroy.

And we all know how those Faustian pacts end.

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