Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Black Rhino Hunting License Sold for $350,000

By Frontiergap @FrontierGap

Auction of permit to hunt the endangered species in Namibia, the proceeds will go towards conservation efforts but has drawn criticism from wildlife campaigners.

Black Rhino Hunting License Sold for $350,000

Image courtesy of Sascha Wenninger

On Saturday evening at the Dallas Safari Club an auction was held to sell off the right to hunt one of the world’s conservation icons, the critically endangered black rhino. The permit, which is one of 5 sold annually by the Namibian government is the first to be put up for sale outside the country and is only to be used on one individual, an older non-breeding male which has become violent and is threatening other wildlife including younger breeding rhinos. The behind closed doors auction which was won by an anonymous bidder. Under normal circumstances this auction would breach the US Endangered Species Act, but is being allowed to go ahead on the basis that the funds raised will go towards the future protection of the species.

A group of 50 protestors gathered outside the club to make their feelings known, Jim Ries who traveled from Atlanta said “if our kids ever want to see a rhino left in the wild we can't be pulling the trigger on every one we say is too old to breed." The FBI has become involved in the case as it has emerged that members of the Safari Club have received death threats in the build up to the auction. An online petition has garnered 80,000 signatures in protest against the sale. Jeffrey Flocken of International Fund for Animal Welfare said “This auction is telling the world that an American will pay anything to kill their species,".

There are estimated to be around 20,000 black rhinos left, incidents of poaching are increasing, with 2-3 rhinos thought to be killed each day by illegal poachers in Namibia, it is being driven by to the increased demand for rhino horn in the black market medicinal trades of China and Vietnam, the horn is said to be a cancer cure and can be sold for up to $65,000 per kg, even though it’s chemical composition is roughly the same as the hooves or nails of any other mammal.

The sale has provoked a heated debate, with animal rights campaigners arguing that keeping these animals alive for a chance from eco-tourists to photograph them is of greater value than hunting it for a trophy. This case highlights an ongoing debate on how conservation is funded; WWF sent a letter in support of the auction, stating “WWF believes that sport hunting of Namibia’s black rhino population will strongly contribute to the enhancement of the survival of the species”. The internal conflict within the industry remains whether to protect a species for its own intrinsic value or because it is useful to humans in some way, the usefulness argument is easier to sell to the wider public but shifts the focus of conservation effort onto a certain number of species to the detriment of others.

By Alex Caldwell

Find out more about Frontier's Black Rhino & Elephant Conservation project.

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