Shades of Gray

rhino auction protest

Protesters at the Dallas Safari Club January 12th.

The Dallas Safari Club has auctioned off the life of a black rhino for $350,000.

In light of this recent atrocity, trophy hunting has come to the forefront of the social consciousness. The elitist hobby of killing for the thrill  has been going on since the 19th century, with nearly 18,000 participants a year.

Today, with the black rhino population in serious decline, each life is crucial to the species. It is a wonder that anyone could place higher value on their death, than their life. Endangered species are labeled as such to provide them extra levels of protection. Hunting them to “save” them flies in the face of logic.

Yet, some argue that hunting helps conservation. What do they mean by that?

Countries condone trophy hunting for a couple of reasons:
1. to make money – the money brought in from the hunting fee goes toward community conservation
2. to help control wildlife populations – keeping wildlife at reasonable numbers for the health of the species
3. to rid areas of “problem” animals –  i.e. elephants or cape buffalo that destroy crops

elephant huntedThe hunters pay fees, differing amounts depending on the size of the game.  Allegedly, these fees and the resulting meat are given to the communities.

With human/wildlife conflict a growing concern, many countries permit trophy hunting where only older males or repeated crop or cattle raiders are targeted. This provides a win-win for the village: the pest animal is removed and they receive monetary support.

Is it working? How much money is the community receiving? And how do they spend the money?

According to David Hulme, author and conservationist, its working well in terms of conservation.  Zimbabwe is having high conservation success, primarily because of the hunting community.

“Here in Zimbabwe hunters have been on the frontline of the poaching wars. They were at the forefront of massive rhino evacuation exercises, moving them from the Zambezi valley to safer areas. Pretty much the only rhino left in Zimbabwe are in the large conservancies, owned and operated by hunters.
Hunters here in Zim  also organized and carried out the first ever live adult elephant translocation exercise, moving whole herds from drought stricken Gonarezhou national park to the conservancies.”

The Save Conservancy in Zimbabwe, an area Hulme is quite familiar with, is one such example.

The conservancy used to be denuded cattle land and is now the largest privately owned conservation area in the world, at 1 million acres. In 1990 there were a handful of lions there, now there are hundreds, 20 odd rhino, now there are 130, 20 odd elephants now there are 1500, no buffalo now there are thousands.. “said Hulme.

big five james jean

Big Five by: James Jean

And what about the community? The Zimbabwe government is currently backing a project that allows trophy hunting of elephants, warthogs, giraffes, buffaloes and impalas. The project is well established, with the hunting fees being used to build a school and a clinic. This added income is especially helpful to the people during the dry season, when crops and livestock are not viable.

It’s hard to argue with the wildlife growth or community benefit. It’s been working in Zimbabwe for years. Yet what seems to be helpful in one area is a disaster in another.

South Africa remains the largest trophy hunting industry on the continent.  Frustratingly, they are one of only two countries to allow the legal hunting of rhinos. Of course with the rhino being endangered and this being home to the remaining 90% of them, this is a nightmare.

rhino awareness graffiti by Faktor

Rhino awareness graffiti in S.A. by: Faktor

Encouraging  legal hunting, while trying to crack down on illegal hunting (poaching) seems difficult, if not impossible. Rich foreigners with cash in hand stepping into impoverished communities make it all too easy for corruption to flourish.  In the end, it comes down to money. The communities need it, the hunters have it, and the animals are the product to be bought and sold.


Thank you David Hulme for reminding me the world is more than black and white.

david hulme 3

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Shades of Gray

  1. I don’t agree with hunters being crowned “Conservationists”. Animals can survive without our intervention. The problem “pests” are HUMANS! The planet is in crisis and there is only ONE mammal to blame: US!

    Great post Tisha.

  2. If there are alternate universes, I hope that in at least one of them, animals would return this insane abuse to these godless humans.

  3. Conserving something means protecting it from harm or destruction.

    If the person who won the bidding can afford $350,000 for a day’s sport, he or she is also in the position to give the money to the appropriate fund without demanding the reward of taking a life. But, of course, there is no thrill in simply conserving lives. Far more fun to kill something. I cannot imagine why anyone would get a good feeling by doing that. They clearly have more money than either sense or compassion and someone should relieve them of such wealth before they do any further damage.

    Whatever the arguments for or against this, no-one had the right to sell that animal’s life. It was not theirs to sell. And certainly not as a commodity placed on the open market. It is a free-living sentient being with as much right to life as they have. It is not their right to make these decisions. A far as money is concerned, tourism is a well-recognised way of raising funds – often lots of funds. But you need to keep the animals free and alive or it doesn’t tend to work too well.

    …and this whole debacle is sending out the wrong message, which is now bouncing all around the world.

    • It’s the same in politics and in the wealthy – they are seemingly untouchable. It takes a group of people with a loud voice to start to push back and make a difference. That’s why we need to keep talking about this. And if nothing else- this auction at least drew attention to trophy hunting, conservation, rhinos, and what they are going through with poaching.

  4. Reblogged this on "OUR WORLD".

  5. I totally agree, and second Girl For Animal Liberation’s comment.

  6. Karen

    I had the privilege of studying from and becoming friends with the late, Ray Dasmann, an internationally known conservationist of great repute. He once believed in game farms in Africa. He lived there for a long time. And then he changed his mind. I asked him why. Being a man of terse verbiage, he said, simply, “I grew sick of the killing.” And he glared at me. Need one say more? I hope this Corey comes to his senses and realizes rhinos, bongos, caracals and all the other magnificent creatures he slaughters are his victims and they die needlessly. He seems beyond help. I pray this rhino that is slated to die, will, by his death, wake more people up to the horrors of canned murders and that we may all succeed in stopping this carnage and evolve into a kinder world. Thanks you for your posts, Rhino Grrrl. You are appreciated, as are all of you who write in, Girl for Animal Lib and Mungai and so many others.

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