Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ultimate rhino irony

In the 1960s, there were 70,000 black rhinos worldwide. Now, due to poaching and habitat loss, there are fewer than 5,000 in Africa and fewer than 2,000 of those in the Southern African nation of Namibia. One subspecies, the western black rhino, has already been declared extinct. But despite the animal's critically endangered status, and outrage from conservation groups and animal activists from around the world, hunters from Texas bid for the right to shoot and kill a black rhino in Mangetti National Park. The winner of the auction held by the Dallas Safari Club at their annual meeting over the weekend paid $350,000 for the "privilege" granted by Namibian wildlife officials, who will accompany him on his "hunt" of the designated rhinoceros. The meat from the animal will feed a nearby community and the proceeds from the auction will – ironically – go to a fund for conservation of the black rhino in the form of anti-poaching patrols, habitat protection, and research. Though the hunter has yet to be granted a permit from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife to bring his trophy home, protesters point out that preserving this individual rhino for repeated eco-tourism and safaris would benefit Namibians more than auctioning a one-time hunting permit to kill it. Former game show host Bob Barker, now 90, writes in an open letter to the hunting club, "The rhino that your organization reportedly has in its cross hairs is an older 'non-breeding' male who has apparently been deemed expendable. As an older male myself, I must say that this seems like a rather harsh way of dealing with senior citizens.”

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