Posts Tagged ‘trophy hunting’

rhino-1-1276102050rNRLAs most everyone knows by now, a hunting club has auctioned off a trophy hunting permit to kill a black rhino in the country of Namibia. Wildlife officials there say that the money will go to protecting rhinos and their habitat and that the rhino chosen to be killed by the shooter (I refuse to use the term “hunter” in this context since it is basically a slaughter) is an older male past typical breeding age. I won’t begin to try and understand the political, financial, and logistical challenges of conserving wildlife and their habitat in far away lands (far away to me, as I am in the U.S.). But since other countries such as Botswana and Zambia have banned trophy hunting, and countries such as Kenya have extremely tough penalties for poaching wildlife, it is certainly conceivable that kill-free conservation efforts could be successful. Botswana, for example, has decided to switch the focus from killing to viewing, ending trophy hunting in favor of a more developed ecotourism program. Kenya has possible life sentences for poachers and also focuses on tourism to bring in much needed dollars.

Different countries have different approaches to trying to save their precious wildlife and habitat, but trophy hunting can’t be one of them. While it is well known that people will spend tens of thousands of dollars for a guided “hunt” (i.e., slaughter), the countries hosting them fear that photographers, nature lovers, and other tourists won’t necessarily lay out that kind of money for a trip to their country. Simply put, we must prove them wrong. Killing what should be a protected species can not be a true conservation strategy. Not in this century, not with all that we know about the importance of biological diversity and habitat protection. Not with all that we know about the sentient, sensitive, and intelligent nature of many of these magnificent animals. Not with the real risk of generations of people growing up in the future having to look only at photos of lions, leopards, and rhinos. This can’t be the answer.

What I find most despicable about this whole thing is the glee with which the “hunting” club is celebrating this auction of a kill permit. One person presented the winning bid of $350,000. That person, presumably, will travel to the country and enjoy his killing of this rhino. I am curious – does he actually think he is helping the species? Because he/she can do that by donating the money and NOT killing the rhino. And what kind of “hunting” feat is it when the animal to be killed has been preselected, will be older, and will likely be in a cordoned off area, not truly able to even escape his fate? What does it say about us as a species when people compete with large sums of money for the privilege of shooting a confined, elderly animal just for the pleasure of it?

This obscene practice of trophy hunting has to stop. It is, country by country. But it needs to move along with haste. We need to support in whatever way we can the conservation efforts of the countries fortunate enough to be the residence of these beautiful creatures. We need to speak out and petition against this brutal practice of wealthy, privileged people buying rights to kill animals that normally are protected and against whom the killing could be considered a crime if done by a person without the money to buy such an activity. Once again, the image of money dangling overhead by an extremely small minority of people is an attempt to control others and an attempt to do what is clearly wrong by calling it right. This contorted logic and destruction of the world’s precious ecological habitats and inhabitants needs to be defeated. Conservation can be accomplished without selling the blood of the species we are trying to save.