A Trophy Hunt That’s Good for Rhinos

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INTERESTING ARTICE FROM THE LIBERAL NY TIMES.


A Trophy Hunt That’s Good for Rhinos
JAN. 20, 2014

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Let’s stipulate up front that there is no great sport in hunting a black rhinoceros, especially not in Namibia’s open countryside. The first morning we went out tracking in the northern desert there, we nosed around in vehicles for several hours until our guides spotted a rhino a half mile off. Then we hiked quietly up into a high valley. There, a rhino mom with two huge horns stood calmly in front of us next to her calf, as if triceratops had come back to life, at a distance of 200 yards. We shot them, relentlessly, with our cameras.

Let’s also accept, nolo contendere, that trophy hunters are “coldhearted, soulless zombies.” That’s how protesters put it following the recent $350,000 winning bid for the right to trophy hunt a black rhino in Namibia. Let’s acknowledge, finally, that we are in the middle of a horrific global war on rhinos, managed by criminal gangs and driven by a perverse consumer appetite for rhino horn in Southeast Asia.

Even so, auctioning the right to kill a black rhino in Namibia is an entirely sound idea, good for conservation and good for rhinos in particular.

Here’s why: Namibia is just about the only place on earth to have gotten conservation right for rhinos and, incidentally, a lot of other wildlife. Over the past 20 years, it has methodically repopulated one area after another as its rhino population has steadily increased. As a result, it is now home to 1,750 of the roughly 5,000 black rhinos surviving in the wild. (The worldwide population of Africa’s two rhino species, black and the more numerous white, plus three species in Asia, is about 28,000.) In neighboring South Africa, government officials stood by haplessly as poachers slaughtered almost a thousand rhinos last year alone. Namibia lost just two.

To be fair, Namibia has the advantage of being home to only 2.1 million people in an area twice the size of California — about seven per square mile, versus about 100 in South Africa. But Namibia’s success is also the product of a bold political decision in the 1990s to turn over ownership of the wildlife to communal conservancies — run not by white do-gooders, but by black ranchers and herders, some of whom had, until then, also been poachers.

The idea was to encourage villagers living side by side with wildlife to manage and profit from it by opening up their conservation lands to wealthy big-game hunters and tourists armed with cameras. The hunters come first, because the conservancies don’t need to make any investment to attract them. Tourist lodges are costly, so they tend to come later, or prove impractical in some areas. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism sets limits on all hunting, and because rhino horn is such a precious commodity, rhinos remain under strict national control.

The theory behind the conservancy idea was that tolerance for wildlife would increase and poaching would dwindle, because community ownership made the illegal killing feel like stealing from the neighbors. And it has worked. Community conservancies now control almost 20 percent of Namibia — 44 percent of the country enjoys some form of conservation protection — and wildlife numbers have soared. The mountain zebra population, for instance, has increased to 27,000 from 1,000 in 1982. Elephants, gunned down elsewhere for their ivory, have gone to 20,000, up from 15,000 in 1995. Lions, on the brink of extinction from Senegal to Kenya, are increasing in Namibia.

Under an international agreement on trade in endangered species, Namibia can sell hunting rights for as many as five black rhinos per year, though it generally stops at three. The entire trophy fee, in this case $350,000, goes into a trust fund that supports rhino conservation efforts. The fund pays, for instance, to capture rhinos and implant transmitters in their horns, as an anti-poaching measure. Trophy hunting one rhino may thus save many others from being butchered.

Many wildlife groups also support the program because Namibia manages it so carefully. It chooses which individual will be hunted, and wildlife officials go along to make sure the hunter gets the right one. (So much for the romance of the Great White Hunter.) The program targets older males past their breeding prime. They’re typically belligerent individuals that have a territorial tendency to kill females and calves.

So why the uproar this time? Namibia made the mistake of allowing the auction to take place in the United States rather than on its own turf. The outraged response started with a kind of Stephen Colbert bump in October. (“If you love something, set it free,” the comedian declared. “Then, when it has a bit of a head start, open fire.”) And it culminated last week in death threats, including one to the auction-sponsoring Dallas Safari Club promising, “For every rhino you kill, we will kill a member of the club.”

Protecting wildlife is a complicated, expensive and morally imperfect enterprise, often facing insuperable odds. The risk with trophy hunting is twofold: Commodifying an endangered species creates a gray zone in which bad behaviors can seem acceptable, and the public relations disaster this time could hurt Namibia’s entire conservation effort. But so far nothing else matches trophy hunting for paying the bills. For people outraged by this hunt, here’s a better way to deal with it: Go to Namibia. Visit the conservancies, spend your money and have one of the great wildlife experiences of your life. You will see that this country is doing grand, ambitious things for conservation. And you may come away wondering whether Americans, who struggle to live with species as treacherous as, say, the prairie dog, should really be telling Namibians how to run their wildlife.


Richard Conniff is the author of “The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth.”
 

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Well written piece with some correct info and facts for a change.
 
YA for a change!
 
Brings up an interesting point.

I don't think we are always losing the war as badly as we think, even with many of the liberals. Problem is, we only hear the loud mouthed radicals and think we are (which is their intent). Don't get me wrong, I don't think we can let our guard down for a second and we have much to do, but it is far from hopeless!
 
But thats the problem, the antis who scream the loudest GET HEARD.
 
But thats the problem, the antis who scream the loudest GET HEARD.

Completely understand, and agree it is an issue, but I don't think their impact is always as great as we think it is. Again, not belittling it, just stating that the loud ones aren't the only voice out there.
 
I understand your point completely. But I wish we took the same approach and scream when NEEDED...It's like we just blend in the bushes and hope no one see's us...
 
I understand your point completely. But I wish we took the same approach and scream when NEEDED...It's like we just blend in the bushes and hope no one see's us...

Completely agree!!!

We definitely need louder national/international voices. Grass roots alone won't do it.
 
I ve said many times here I really believe the big boy's, gun manufactures , ammo makers, etc need a PR firm to address these issues whenever they arise. Combined they could easily afford the cost. Then we can really make inroads and reach many many people. When you place ads in print, media,radio etc showing and telling OUR side and giving people the FACTS then and only then will people understand and maybe accept hunting as a true conservation tool. Until that happens we are all going to "shiver in our boots" and hope hunting is here for future generations.
 
I ve said many times here I really believe the big boy's, gun manufactures , ammo makers, etc need a PR firm to address these issues whenever they arise. Combined they could easily afford the cost. Then we can really make inroads and reach many many people. When you place ads in print, media,radio etc showing and telling OUR side and giving people the FACTS then and only then will people understand and maybe accept hunting as a true conservation tool. Until that happens we are all going to "shiver in our boots" and hope hunting is here for future generations.

They already do this for GUNS! The companies that you listed are not very likely to take money away from the gun lobbying/education/advocacy effort to support a hunting lobbying/education/advocacy because we are such a small part of their business and we are a "captive audience".
 
But thats the problem, the antis who scream the loudest GET HEARD.

Completely agree!!!

We definitely need louder national/international voices. Grass roots alone won't do it.

Is it a matter of screaming louder or having an avenue for the message? The anti's are being supported via the media giving them a conduit to get their message out. This rarely happens on the other side, the OP ED that this thread started with is the rare exception.

America's media is not about reporting news anymore, it's about generating a reaction, the more extreme the better.
 
They already do this for GUNS! The companies that you listed are not very likely to take money away from the gun lobbying/education/advocacy effort to support a hunting lobbying/education/advocacy because we are such a small part of their business and we are a "captive audience".
Captive audience? Really, there are millions of hunters in this country. With all due respect this is the kind of thinking that pretty much leaves us on our own. IMO SCI is mainly concerned with conservation more so than hunters rights. Maybe I m wrong but I ve become very disillusioned with them.
 
Is it a matter of screaming louder or having an avenue for the message? The anti's are being supported via the media giving them a conduit to get their message out. This rarely happens on the other side, the OP ED that this thread started with is the rare exception.

America's media is not about reporting news anymore, it's about generating a reaction, the more extreme the better.
Your right Phil, so what do we do? Sit back as I said and hope hunting is around in the future? We all know we need better voices for HUNTERS. Maybe DSC should take the lead on having hunters voices heard. They seem to do more for hunters than popa SCI. I m sure with there resources could hire a PR firm, and I know I keep saying PR firm but does anyone here agree we need someone to address policy and opinions in the media, print, radio etc? They know how do get our message heard.
 
By captive audience, I simply mean that we are going to buy their products regardless.
 
Your right Phil, so what do we do? Sit back as I said and hope hunting is around in the future? We all know we need better voices for HUNTERS. Maybe DSC should take the lead on having hunters voices heard. They seem to do more for hunters than popa SCI. I m sure with there resources could hire a PR firm, and I know I keep saying PR firm but does anyone here agree we need someone to address policy and opinions in the media, print, radio etc? They know how do get our message heard.

I wish I had the answers JB. Perhaps a PR firm is a good idea, then again they can't force the news entertainment outlets to cover our story either.
 
By captive audience, I simply mean that we are going to buy their products regardless.
True, but don't you think if the anti's get there way and eliminate hunting in this country the big boy's wont feel that? I know I am probably being extreme but better to be proactive. You know you don't have to close the barn door once the horse has already left.
 
I wish I had the answers JB. Perhaps a PR firm is a good idea, then again they can't force the news entertainment outlets to cover our story either.
True but as we all know MONEY talks. Somone will take it a post the truth. Cable news would gladly take advertising money.
 
True, but don't you think if the anti's get there way and eliminate hunting in this country the big boy's wont feel that? I know I am probably being extreme but better to be proactive. You know you don't have to close the barn door once the horse has already left.

I don't see a hue and cry to stop hunting. There are certainly a VOCAL minority who are advocating against hunting.

If you watch any sport on TV for more than an hour, the commentator will explain that their sport is under attack and declining and we need to have programs to "get the youth out" to "protect the future of the sport" ... including hunting! At work, I am saturated with programs to recruit people to liberal arts fields because the "arts are under attack", to recruit people to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) because "STEM is under attack", we need more teachers because "education is under attack" (OK, I think that one is true :)!). If you watch Fox News, conservatives are being attacked by liberals. If you watch MSNBC, liberals are being attacked by conservative (I think conservatives and liberals are both attacking the other side because that is what we do in America today. If I disagree, I shout louder!). So I see this everyday, all-day and I am desensitized to it.

It has always been my policy to ignore individuals who are shouting because they probably don't have a lot to say. That is getting harder to do today because I think that the entire American-speaking world has lost their ability to disagree amicably. To make a reasoned argument. And we are all bombarded by the attacks.

So, I believe that stooping to their level and engaging them in an argument of the facts (let's face it if facts would change their opinions about hunting, they wouldn't have their opinions :)!) legitimizes their position and will embolden them more.
 
Ok ....So I guess we just sit by and loose more ground all the time. That kind of attitude reminds me of what this "president" said of ISIS. There just a JV team....I m not trying to attack anyone here on there opinions let me be clear of that. I m just not someone who likes to sit by idly . If bringing them the facts legitimizes there position than I say so be it! If we can get a few people to see our position on hunting and conservation thru smart print ,ad, and media (PR firm) then I think we won a small battle. One battle at a time. Obviously sitting back while we loose more ground and then hopefully regain it as is the situation with hunting trophy transportation embargo's for instance is a loosing plan. Or trying to reopen countries in Africa after they stopped hunting or anywhere else where hunters and wildlife are under attack is a losing plan. Just look at what has happened to countries in Africa where they have closed hunting. Wildlife has and continues to suffer. The people have suffered, hunters lost wonderful places to pursue game.

Maybe I m just an old school guy ready to defend his family and the things I love to the hilt! Sorry This ole Italian boy aint gonna change. No one is really speaking for hunters loud enough IMO. And no one can make me believe different. I just hope all of you here who have kids will be able to share time in the field with them in the future.
 
. . . . . So, I believe that stooping to their level and engaging them in an argument of the facts (let's face it if facts would change their opinions about hunting, they wouldn't have their opinions :)!) legitimizes their position and will embolden them more.

Scott, I agree that an argument will rarely change the opinion of anyone on the 'other side of the fence'. Their opposing opinion is as fixed as your own so why waste the time. But in reality most people are sitting on the fence between the two sides.

I believe those 'fence sitters' are the people who we should appeal to with a sound and rational argument. You may find that they will hop off the fence and over to our side. Ignore the 'fence sitters' and they just might fall over to the other side. The situation cannot just be ignored or it will continue to grow as with any unchecked disease.

Just my two cents.
 
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