Danger to rhino isn’t from auction

Posted Friday, Jan. 17, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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It’s been a week since the Dallas Safari Club auctioned off the rights to hunt and kill an endangered black rhino in southern Africa.

But the story is still very much alive.

Royse City hunter Corey Knowlton has been catapulted into the public sphere thanks to a $350,000 bid that won him the license to shoot the rare breed and unleashed a mix of vitriol and support from a community very much in turmoil over the auction.

A news release on the club’s website quotes its executive director, Ben Carter, as saying the auction was the direct result of a request made by the government of the Republic of Namibia. And the club marketed the event as an effort to raise “crucial funding for additional law enforcement and other rhino conservation initiatives.”

It seems counter-intuitive that the destruction of an animal could help conserve its kind. But there is a meaning to the madness that is not as convoluted as some might suggest.

Pursuant to an international treaty, the Namibian government has the authority to issue a limited number of permits each year. The money that such permits return — in this case the total proceeds of the auction — becomes a revenue stream for the government’s efforts to protect and preserve the species and others at risk.

Knowlton is not authorized to hunt indiscriminately: His permit gives him the right to shoot a specific creature — an older, non-breeding male that is no longer contributing to the herd or to its genetic pool but competes for resources with younger members of the species.

Big game hunting is also a highly regulated industry.

The hunters — even the overzealous ones — are not the real danger to these animals. Threats to the black rhino and its endangered brethren are posed by poachers who hunt and kill illegally and at random and those who propel illegal killing by purchasing rare animal products on the black market.

Emotions run high on issues that involve animals; they sometimes generate more extreme responses than those involving humans.

But as majestic and amazing as these creatures are, we must remember that they are not humans and refrain from making such comparisons.

While some non-hunters may fail to understand or fully appreciate the motivations of hunters like Knowlton, his pricey purchase does not further threaten the species and will do more good than harm.

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