US Authorities Approve Import Of Namibian Black Rhino Trophies

AFRICAN INDABA

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By Gerhard R Damm

Based on extensive assessments of the conservation and management programs of black rhinos in Namibia, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that the import of two sport-hunted black rhinoceros trophies from Namibia will benefit conservation of the species. Under the Endangered Species Act, the Service authorizes imports for sport-hunted trophies of rhinos only when hunting in the country of origin is well-regulated, sustainable and benefits conservation of the species in question. The black rhino hunts associated with the imports of two sport-hunted trophies are consistent with the conservation strategy of Namibia, a country whose rhino population is steadily increasing, and will generate a combined total of $550,000 for wildlife conservation, anti-poaching efforts and community development programs in Namibia.

“U.S. citizens make up a disproportionately large share of foreign hunters who book trophy hunts in Africa,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe. “That gives us a powerful tool to support countries that are managing wildlife populations in a sustainable manner and incentivize others to strengthen their conservation and management programs.” Ashe also said that “the future of Africa’s wildlife is threatened by poaching and illegal wildlife trade, not [by] responsible, scientifically managed sport hunting“, and that the Service remains committed to combating wildlife crimes while supporting activities that empower and encourage local communities to be a part of the solution1.” Namibia’s Black Rhinoceros Conservation Strategy concentrates on maximizing population growth rates through biological management and range expansion, with an overall goal of increasing Namibia’s black rhino population by at least five percent per year. Under this strategy, the black rhino population more than doubled between 2001 and 2012. Local communities are an integral part of this strategy and receive direct benefits from the presence of black rhinos, thereby providing a disincentive to poaching. Annually, the management plan for black rhinos allows the harvest of 5 males, a decision that has also been supported by CITES. Although these rhinos may still be physically capable of reproducing, they are presumed to be genetically well-represented in the population and their removal may provide the opportunity for younger, less dominant males to reproduce, leading to a possible population increase. Click here for more information on the decision to authorize the import of two sport-hunted black rhinoceros trophies hunted in Namibia.

Dallas Safari Club (DSC) auctioned one permit for $350,000 in early 2014, says the federal approval is vindication for biologists in Africa who prescribed the hunt as way to grow rhino populations.. Conservation Force has in the meantime transferred 100% of the auction proceeds including accrued interest to Namibia to be used for rhino conservation, habitat and anti-poaching initiatives. The second permit was approved for another American hunter, who paid $200,000 directly to the Namibian government.

In North America, trophy game hunting has led to the restoration of the white-tailed deer, elk, moose and a number of other species. As the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other international wildlife management and conservation organizations recognize, well-managed wildlife programs that include limited, sustainable sport hunting can and have provided significant long-term benefits to the populations of many species. By law, the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service cannot and will not allow trophies of certain protected species into the United States that were hunted in any nation whose conservation program fails to meet high standards for transparency, scientific management and effectiveness.
 
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