The planned hunt by an American who paid $US350,000 for a permit to hunt a black rhino in Namibia looks set to proceed with the hunt following 15 months of controversy and debate surrounding the ethics and legalities of such a hunt.
As reported by CNN, Texas hunter and conservationist Corey Knowlton submitted the winning bid at a special Dallas Safari Club-sponsored auction that the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism had released for the first time outside its country. The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism has only recently allowed three permits per year to be auctioned to raise funds for the conservation of the critically endangered black rhino and to fund the fight against the illegal trade or poaching of this species.
Individual rhinos earmarked to be hunted under permit are near the end of their life. They are no longer beneficial to the gene pool and in fact can be detrimental to the population by killing or harming younger rhinos. These younger ones need protection because they are the future of the species.
The timing of the hunt has been held up while Mr Knowlton waited for US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approval to import the whole trophy. Although there was much campaigning by animal rights groups to prevent the importation of the trophy to the US, the USFWS said that the import permits would be granted due to ‘clear conservation benefits’.
The USFWS said in a statement that the hunt would be consistent with the conservation strategy of Namibia, which has a steadily increasing rhino population as a result of funds from trophy hunting providing $US550,000 for wildlife conservation, anti-poaching efforts and community development programs. It was stated that the future of Africa’s wildlife is threatened by the poaching and illegal wildlife trade, not responsible scientifically managed sport hunting. This statement no doubt rings in the ears of Australian hunters when we consider the recent off-target ban of lion trophy imports by Federal Environmental Minister Greg Hunt where Australian hunters cannot directly participate in sustainable use lion conservation.