How Legal Hunting Supports African Rhino Conservation


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Dec 18, 2015
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While the UK government has been considering a ban on imports of hunting trophies, the South African government recently approved an annual maximum quota of ten legal trophy hunts of endangered black rhinos for 2022. South Africa has permitted white rhino hunts, without quota limits, since 1972.

The South African government’s approval of this year’s quota is consistent with previous approvals since legal black rhino hunts started in 2005. Approval for hunting is given only when specific individual animals to be hunted meet a set of criteria established by a scientific rhino management group.

But given that both rhino species are threatened by poaching, and that the black rhino is considered critically endangered, does it make sense to allow any rhinos at all to be killed?

We considered this question in some detail in a recently published study. We examined the regulated legal hunting of both rhino species in South Africa and Namibia over the last half-century. By analysing historical information and data on rhino numbers and hunts, we explain that this issue is not as simple as it seems.

Rhino hunting is the best way to fund the very expensive anti-poaching and other conservation needs required to have a growing rhino population. It is difficult, for some people, to convince themselves to hunt one. I know for me I don't oppose hunting rhinos; I support it whole heartily but I don't have the wish to hunt one myself. I have tagged along on a client's hunt before for a rhino and I have seen that whole process. Even with the quota not all those animals available on quota will be harvested.

I think the biggest hurdle for rhino conservation still remains with legalizing the horn trade. A rhino's horn regrows, it is a renewable resource and the animal's life doesn't need to be taken to harvest the horn. Until this trade is legalized and properly regulated the fate of rhinos is anyone's guess.

Until then the only ways rhinos can be properly protected are by legal hunting and through a large number of foreign donations. Unfortunately, foreign donations rarely reach the front line and it is difficult truly help if the right people aren't in charge of those organizations. That's why hunting is really the best way we have available to us at the moment to protect these animals. Yes, some animals have to be harvested but the money from that single animal pays to protect so many more.

I will finish with this, in the countries where hunting is legal the rhino populations are growing and where it is not rhinos are extinct or going extinct, except for a few small-scale causes.
i myself have no interest in taking a rhino, but i see no harm in taking old non breeding animals to help the gene pool. and the money raised from the total hunt helping to conserve the animals and helping local people.

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Hi Ian, I'm contemplating my first outing, leaving UK via Dubai to Africa, taking rifles as you did.

I presume it went okay for you, would you have done anything differently? Cheers, Richard East Sussex
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