By Jeffrey Flocken, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
In a deeply twisted effort to put a responsible spin on trophy hunting, this weekend the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) will auction off the chance to kill one of the world’s last black rhinos.
The DSC expects the auction to pull in between $250,000 and $1 million, which will allegedly fund conservation efforts for this highly endangered species (fewer than 1,800 individuals remain within Namibia’s borders, out of a global population of around 5,000).
There’s a glaring disconnect between their stated aim (conservation) and the route the DSC is taking to get there.
Wildilfe around the globe face pressures from habitat loss and other factors, but poaching for the black market is the biggest reason black rhinos face extinction – indeed, in 2013 there were almost 1000 rhinos poached for their horns in South Africa alone.
From an ecological perspective, it makes no difference whether the hunter is motivated by greed, poverty, or an incredibly tasteless and morally repugnant style of interior decorating.
Tell me, does it matter whether the horn ends up on someone’s wall or as a (alleged) medical cure? It’s still one less rhino, in a world that can’t afford more losses.
If black rhinos and other dwindling species are to have a future, people must be encouraged to value animals for their inherent worth, not for their closing price at a Texas auction house.
All the DSC is accomplishing is kicking up more enthusiasm for hunting in an era when conservationists are struggling to prevent mass extinctions. Instead of helping the conservation cause, as they claim to be doing, the Dallas Safari Club is sending the message that killing endangered animals is not only fun, but conscientious as well.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Black Rhino getting shot