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Black Rhino Hunt Auction Won’t Help Conservation

black rhinos

Black rhinos, photo courtesy of Black Rhino Monitoring Project sponsored by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

This weekend the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) plans to auction off the chance to kill one of the world’s last black rhinos—and shockingly, the U.S. government may be okay with it despite the species’ protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  According to DSC, which describes itself as both a pro-conservation and pro-hunting group, the proceeds of the January auction will go toward African conservation efforts, thereby creating a loophole that would allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to grant a permit to import the dead animal as a trophy. (See “Rhino Hunt Permit Auction Sets Off Conservation Debate.”)

With around 1,800 black rhinos remaining in Namibia (where the hunt is slated to take place) out of a worldwide population of only 5,055, the announcement has caused more than a few double-takes. Comedian Stephen Colbert nailed it when he ripped into the obvious irony of the “kill it to save it” argument on his show The Colbert Report in October when the scheme was announced.

As Colbert pointed out with biting satire, the idea of creating a bidding war for the opportunity to gun-down one of the last of a species ostensibly in the name of conservation is perverse and dangerous to buy into.  It promotes the economic axiom that scarcity equals value when dealing with living species.  If an animal like the rare black rhinoceros is worth the most with a price on its head, what possible incentive does this provide range countries and local people to move the species toward recovery when the biggest buck can be made short-term by selling permits to kill them to the highest bidders?

We’ve seen this perverse economic incentive happen with polar bears and tigers, where perceived rarity has caused “collectors” to rush out and try to kill or own the last pieces of these animals, and the price for their parts have sky-rocketed, thereby making extinction that much more likely.

Another economic problem with DSC’s proposed one-off kill-for-conservation is the fallacy that this is the best way to raise money for conservation.  DSC Executive Director Ben Carter offered his support for the auction to the Dallas Observer when he said, “People are talking about ‘Why don’t you do a photo safari?’ or whatever. Well, that’s great, but people don’t pay for that.”

But the truth is that non-hunting ecotourism, such as the photo safaris that Carter scoffs at, provide much greater revenue to Africa, which is a real incentive to keep rhino populations plentiful.  Indeed, ecotourism has become such an important part of some African countries’ economies that governments are taking steps against hunting in order to protect this flourishing industry. For example, last year, Botswana announced a ban on hunting permits, citing its booming ecotourism sector—which now makes up 12% of national GDP—as the primary factor.  Compare this to trophy hunting, which as a portion of any national economy never accounts for more than 0.27 percent of the GDP.

And while a one-time killing of a rare rhino will bring in instant cash, the result is that there is now one less rhino for all other future tourists to see, so the possible revenue generated by this animal ends right there with one vainglorious hunt for a single wealthy American.

The truth isn’t complicated: People do pay to see wild animals, without feeling the need to hack off their body parts for a private viewing in their living rooms back in Texas.  In fact, a recent Synovate poll found that 70.4  percent of Americans would pay to view another disappearing species—lions—on an African safari, while only 6.6  percent of Americans would pay to hunt them.

The auction to kill one of the last wild black rhinos is just another example of the warped logic that’s exploiting our wildlife “for their own good.”  It is pushing a species like the iconic black rhino closer to extinction by telling the world that rhinos are worth more to us rare and dead than healthy and flourishing in the wild where they belong.

Jeff Flocken is the North America regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Comments

  1. Fiona Ludbrook
    Australia
    March 25, 6:51 am

    I had the privilege of observing black rhinos in the wild last year in Kenya.
    How anyone could willingly choose to shoot this endangered species is beyond me.
    With the 3 I saw I couldn’t help but wonder if they would fall victim to poachers.
    As for the organisation that is using this barbaric assasination as a fundraiser, how can they claim to be animal welfare advocates?
    How would they feel if someone used one of their pets to be auctioned for slaughter for fundraising for an animal shelter?
    Outreagous misguidance!

  2. Sidek Bash
    Finland
    February 9, 12:42 pm

    One thing puzzles me enormously. If “green” tourism is such a money maker and a viable solution for wild life conservation then why on earth didn’t these anti-hunting organization join the auction and bid the animal for themselves? Then pay to a vet to put it to sleep, pay for the transfer to and for a safe and suitable habitat for the animal?

    No? Well maybe it’s just easier to sell ignorant people an imaginary awareness. Kinda like the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. Put your money where your mouth is…

  3. Dave Joubert
    Windhoek, Namibia
    January 29, 5:27 am

    The author raises some good points, BUT the bottom line is that trophy hunters DO bring in a lot of revenue in Namibia (I don’t have stats now but am motivated to find out).
    The money WILL be used for conservation, trophy hunting is here to stay at least until the ethics of trophy hunting is more globally condemned. Namibia is the ONLY country (with the exception of South Africa, but that is set to change) where black rhino populations continue to increase at a healthy 5 %. I think there are FAR MORE important things that should be focussed on right now. For example, in Zimbabwe, 300 elephants (never mind the collateral damage) were poisoned with cyanide. I hear the accused were let off now. Why the focus on ONE trophy hunter shooting ONE black rhino? I don’t think we are in the luxurious position of arguing the ethics of trophy hunting if we agree that we should be focussed on saving the species, not the individual. The human treatment of animals is another issue not be confused with species conservation.

  4. Ken/A-TeamForWildlife.org
    California
    January 26, 12:54 pm

    The one great failure of all the “hunters” points of view is pretending that killing this rhino is the best and only solution. IF killing this older male enhances rhino population growth while it raises money for conservation (which is highly doubtful), then the rhino should be eliminated in a more productive and humane way – simply relocate him to a place where ecotourism can benefit. Let tourists see this impressive old male away from breeding herds. The old rhino lives, the country benefits from ecotourism dollars, the breeding herds have more success breeding – everybody wins! Except trophy hunters. Oh wait, mustn’t we allow trophy hunters to go out and kill the largest, most beautiful animals they can find?

  5. Dave Spier
    New York State
    January 19, 5:06 pm

    From the IUCN: “…fight-related mortalities are likely to increase once … surplus males grow up. If surplus males killed only other males then perhaps they could just be left to fight it out and let natural selection take its course. However, conservationists have expressed concern that in such populations, valuable breeding females and calves may be injured or even killed as well as other males… Surplus males also use valuable food resources that may affect female breeding performance. …preliminary evidence … suggests that female reproductive success may also be slightly higher in populations with a higher proportion of adult females to males. … Somewhat counter-intuitively, the hunting of a limited number of surplus males may end up stimulating metapopulation growth rates and hence overall rhino numbers. … The removal of such [male] animals after a period of say 10–15 years may therefore reduce the risk of father–daughter matings and contribute positively to the genetic management of such populations, in the same way that a cattle farmer is unlikely to keep the same breeding bull for an extended period. In addition, the hunting of an old post-reproductive male that has been pushed out of his territory will not affect his contribution to the gene pool of that population.” [regarding moving surplus males] “…a bull in a small male-only population killed the other two males.” Although written in 2005, wildlife behavior does not change. That said, the real threat to rhinos is poaching, and the ideal solution is to substitute ecotourism to motivate and pay for conservation of black rhinos.

  6. Christopher Brady
    United States
    January 17, 4:01 pm

    You know it’s just so funny to read about how it’s up to humans to thin herds and kill the old males so they aren’t aggressive, and there are too many Deer so wee MUST hunt them from trees with high power rifles…in camo. How about this if he can kill this Rhino with his bare hands..ok let him do it, no rifle, no weapons at all then I’m fine with it otherwise let the Rhino live, the planet does just fine without human intervention, Nature does NOT need humans to thin herds, cull Rhinos or any other animal. Its human arrogance that makes those statements. If humans left this planet tomorrow believe me the rest of the inhabitants would do just fine on their own! Its all about ONE thing for these people TROPHIES that’s it, nothing else, not even food, nothing more than trophies!

  7. Carter & Olivia Ries
    United States
    January 17, 10:40 am

    The money spent on the auction could help relocate the supposed animal to a safer environment and still let it live out it’s life serving the ecotourism industry which contributes more to the local economy and serves the animal conservation argument.

    Every respectable animal conservation group we have spoken with agrees, you cannot apply old animal conservation tactics such as the culling of a problem animal when dealing with a species that is on the brink of extinction.

    This is not about being anti-hunting, it’s about trying to find an alternative to help the species survive for future generations…, without attacking each other and trying to prove one side is right and the other is wrong.

  8. Timothy
    January 17, 8:18 am

    To all you ignorant bandwagoners, please do some reading and some research before you criticize an animal conservation group when it’s trying to raise money and INCREASE the population of this endangered rhino. The hunt will target only older sterile and aggressive males (the one’s that can’t reproduce for those that apparently can’t understand what they’re reading). These sterile rhino’s kill the younger rhino’s that CAN reproduce when they try to create little rhino babies. If these rhino’s aren’t taken away from the herd, there will be no rhino babies and your precious endangered species will turn into an extinct species. To ensure the survival of this rhino species, the namibian government would have to kill these rhino’s anyway except now, with this auction, it has an extra 300,000 dollars (would have been upwards of a million without any ill informed activists protesting and sending death threats) to pay people to guard the reserves of one of the poorest countries out there.
    The sad thing is that even after being provided with EMPIRICAL evidence, there will still be those bandwagoning, guided by blind faith. To those people, the EXTINCTION of the black rhino will be on your hands when the already minuscule rhino population starts dwindling when little rhino babies stop being produced.

  9. Carter & Olivia Ries
    United States
    January 16, 7:59 pm

    We agree which is why my sister and I traveled down to Dallas to try and meet with DSC president Ben Carter but when he saw us, he ran and hide and called security to keep us from entering the area. We just wanted to ask him what he was thinking when they decided to allow such an auction to happen.

    Since we returned, we have made contact with the winner of the permit and we are trying to set up a face to face meeting with him so we can see if he will understand why we want him to reconsider pulling the trigger.

  10. shirley
    Colorado
    January 16, 10:38 am

    S alibe and yreatef as humanly as we would want to ne yreayed.I want to make a suggestion on what to do with that poor old Black Rhino. You really don’t think you need to kill him. He seems to be senile as would you may be when you grow older. My suggestion or plea wpuld be PLEASE DO NOT KILL THAT BLACK RHINO.PLEASE Someone who wants to offer that much money to kill the rhino could most certainly pay someone to put him into a nice oldfolks home so to speak, for the rest of his natural life and give people the pleasure of knowing and seeing he id

  11. Bee Girl
    January 15, 4:18 pm

    I blame this on greedy people. They can’t have enough. Not enough to fill the void in their heart and souls, greedy people are monsters. They pay people to kill what is precious and irreplaceable and make a profit doing it. I’m glad there is a God! and really glad is he is coming back to stomp what is worthless to death. If you destroy the earth, you are worthless! and will be destroyed without a hope. The ultimate lesson learned. The meek will inherit the earth and it will be good :3

  12. Jake
    Heading out on expedition
    January 14, 9:05 pm

    Andrew,

    Thank you for your comments. I think your argument makes sense but I am troubled by the possible conclusions that can be reached from your position. From your comments you strike me as a logical rational and thoughtful individual. I am genuinely interested in hearing your response to the following : If I understand your position it is (a) the Namibian government has decided that this animal is going to be culled based on their understanding of how best to protect and increase the Health and number of the black rhino population . This will be done regardless of whether a park ranger or some “canned hunter ” from the states actually pulls the trigger, and (b) if the local govt is prepared to apply proceeds from the dcs auction towards conservation efforts then the black rhino population would be better off on a net basis if a canned hunter from the states pays for the privilege. Does that mean that in countries or states that carry a death penalty they should consider raising govt revenues by auctioning off the rights to execute condemned criminals the logic being the criminal is going to die anyways so why not use the event to raise much needed funding ? This conclusion presents a troubling ethical issue at least for me.. Thanks for your thoughts

  13. Lindell Bohannon
    Boaz, Al., USA
    January 14, 5:30 pm

    The big, brave hunters know more about the natural order of the world as a matter of course; the natural order consists of humans interjecting themselves any and every way possible to further their very own desires and wishes, nature be damned.

  14. Jason Geddes
    Melbourne
    January 14, 4:16 pm

    absolutely disgraceful

  15. Dave
    Canada
    January 13, 8:21 pm

    Andrew …thanks for the explanation about the intent of this hunt , however perhaps if some conservation minded hunters went over to Africa and started decreasing the number of poachers that exist , that would also be a form of effective population management. The point being , at this stage of the game for the Black Rhino , very few options exist and I believe removing the poachers is just as important a procedure as removing an old Rhino.

  16. Jason Sheridan
    United States
    January 13, 2:30 pm

    The individuals decrying this hunt as an outrage appear to possess minimal to little knowledge of rhinoceros biology or the very real threats to their survival as an ongoing species (hint, it’s not hunting).

    Rhinos are incredibly territorial and old, sterile males defend their territory (and breeding rights associated with it) tremendously aggressively. This behaviour can impede younger, non-sterile members from actively breeding and enhancing population levels. Culling of herds happens all of the time in order to promote poplulation growth. Why not get $350,000 towards conservation for a rhino that would be killed anyway? We are talking about a harvest of .06% on an annual basis as well — this is not the mass slaughter of the passenger pigeon or the dodo.

    That $350,000 will go to protecting rhinos from real threats, of which the biggest is poaching (thanks to demand in SE Asian markets for rhino horn). This money will be funneled to game wardens, training them, and outfitting them with equipment to protect these rhinos. Go look at how many rhinos are killed each year by poaching.

    The life of an endangered species is not a trivial thing. But open your minds when it comes to what is best for the long term survival of species and that the harvest of one can indeed be for the greater good of the species.

  17. Ciaran Browning
    United Kingdom
    January 13, 8:47 am

    In England we have a situation where the old are living longer, thus we are a aging nation, in which the old out numbered the young.

    Lets apply the said logical from above, lets kill off the majority, or all of the elderly please, so that me, and the younger population have a better economic, and healthcare chances for our generation, and my kids generation, it would serve to improve our chances to living more comfortably within a recession hit world, thanks.

  18. Julie
    Australia
    January 13, 1:13 am

    Andrew…if we all agree with your reasoning, we should shoot all males, over a certain age whom are impotent or unable to father any more children, and perhaps are aggressive due to a mental illness or dementia (the later is quite common symptom of dementia) as the cost on the healthcare dollar of keeping these people alive is enormous? Perhaps capturing the said Rhino and separating it/them would be more humane and possibly lead to genetic research or similar.

    We are all here to serve a purpose and the said rhino’s are serving there’s in their own habitat and not intruding on your life…restrain and control don’t senselessly kill such a beautiful animal!!

  19. Jenny
    Australia
    January 12, 10:49 pm

    If you go to the Dallas Safari Club ite you can view the corporate sponsors which condone this group’s activities.Express your outrage to these corporates.How about it Yamaha -will this sponsorship cost you sales?Is this really an image that you are comfortable associating with your brand!

  20. misty johnson
    san diego
    January 12, 10:14 pm

    The very act of killing an animal that we are trying to protect and increase population, is ludacrist! I am an elementary school teacher wjobhas taught conservation, sustaininility and preservation of natural resources, and the act of raising money for a slaughter of an innocent animal, is unacceptable! Teaching populations of people to not commit acts of poaching and killing, and educate on the value of sustaining living creatures that could become extinct is the intelligent way to help a species survive! Not a big whoopla day for a NRA idiot who feels like a higher power slaughtering a defenseless animal, unable to defend itself!!! Shame on you!

  21. Simply unbelievable
    Australia
    January 12, 7:04 pm

    It’s just stunning that in 2014 the human race are actually starting to go backwards. Quite clearly the person who paid this money only actually got their money by being completely ruthless. Sadder still is that its been allowed to happen. Surely a “hunt” involves the hunter being at some sort of risk as opposed to just sneaking up on an animal and shooting it from a distance with the “hunter” being in no danger whatsoever. Its cowardly, its despicable, its abhorrent and the people that allow this to happen may as well pull the trigger as well and are very much to blame. How dare they lower themselves to allow money to take over like this. I very much feel that the animals we share this planet with are doomed. What a horrible world it will be when there are nothing but humans on the planet. There is no logic behind this. Eco tourism is worth so much more both financially and in the experience of seeing these magnificent animals first hand. Sick scumbags the lot of you.

  22. Lindell Bohannon
    Boaz, Al.
    January 12, 5:29 pm

    I am trying to imagine this rhinoceros killing as the way forward. Humans are so incapable of managing life on earth. But not to worry! Life will persist past the era of humans. We may destroy life on earth, but earth will plug right along, without us. That is the good news, despite the bullet heads ideas.

  23. Great White Hunter
    United States
    January 12, 10:16 am

    ” Jane you ignorant slut ” comes to mind after reading the endless complaints and solutions directed at this issue. Look people,this animal is beyond it’s prime, it would have to be put down as a necessity to protect the herd anyway, so why not help by funding conservation and education efforts while delivering the hunt of a lifetime to one lucky if not rich hunter !!!! Andrew in Texas gave one great explanation of the NEED for this hunt, I would hope/wish/dream/pray that the organizers would have the focus of vision to have auctioned off the rights to many other hunters/sportsmen/corporations to take place in this hunt by allowing bidding on the positions of “Official Gun Manufacturer ” and the rights to reproduce copies of the exact gun used in this monumental hunt with a portion of proceeds funneled directly back to Africa’s efforts towards protection of all of their endangered species “Official Gun-Bearer” Yep I’d pay to carry that man’s weapon, “Official Still Photographer/Camera Manufacturer/Lens Manufacturer and Film Supplier ” Official Ammunition Manufacturer”, who wouldn’t want a box of Hornaday Black Rhino Ammo or .458 Winchester Magnum Black Rhino Edition ? Official Videographer” “Official DOCUMENTARIAN” There is so much that goes into a hunt of this magnitude that it seems as though the surface has only been scratched,I mean, really, there will be a need for flight and transportation I’d buy a Range Rover Black Rhino Edition and switch airlines to help in the conservation efforts! What about Official Taxidermist or Chef out on the hunt? These are all positions that carry a certain honor and possibly perpetual notoriety with them and are clearly of value when we stop to look at the bigger picture.

  24. sean johnstone
    United Kingdom
    January 12, 5:36 am

    To think that the most intelligent animal on the planet still seems continue to extinguish and kill everything it see’s,we even kill ourselves,how dumb is that,for the sake of bits of paper it makes it OK,does anyone know what we can do to stop these idiots,apart from turning them into endangered species!…any head-hunters out there who want to hunt the hunters?…the difference here would be we use tranquiliser guns but house these ‘brave men’ in cages and throw rotten fruit at them!,Lets start a petition on a serious note to the countries involved.

  25. Joe
    January 12, 12:26 am

    Everybody that has concern or criticism of this auction please send 100 dollars of your own personal funds to the country of Namibia. Given that the average annual income of a Namibian citizen is 6000 dollars they are in serious need of funding to help preserve and save these animals. Given that a poacher can get years worth of annual income from killing one animal there is not a lot of disincentive not to poach these animals. As Teddy Roosevelt famously said it is easy to criticize this effort but the people directly trying to save this species that are in the dangerous poacher arena. Perhaps the family from Atlanta should spend some of its time and money to go over to help fund the Namibian government in its effort. All of this protest shows how far we are removed from third world countries and their struggles. I am guessing that the family from Atlanta is not at their local slaughter house protesting where their meats are produced. As we have become removed from a rural agricultural society so has our mentality. Perhaps spending time assisting a Namibian family live would give the people protesting this auction a reason to reassess their opinion of this conservation auction to raise funding for an incredibly financially and environmentally important wildlife species that is on the verge of being totally lost. So to all reading please open up your checkbook and book your trip to volunteer your time to assist the Namibian government, its workers, and citizens who are in the arena fighting for this rhino species…

  26. joan massey
    Canada
    January 11, 11:17 pm

    Ringleader Of International Rhino Smuggling Conspiracy Pleads Guilty In New Jersey To Wildlife Trafficking Crimes

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    December 19, 2013

    WASHINGTON – Zhifei Li, the owner of an antique business in China, pleaded guilty today to being the organizer of an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which 30 rhinoceros horns and numerous objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth more than $4.5 million were smuggled from the United States to China.

    The guilty plea was announced by Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey; Robert G. Dreher, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice; Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

    “The brutality of animal poaching, wherever it occurs, feeds the demand of a multibillion-dollar illegal international market,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “As a major hub of international commerce through our ports and busy airport, the District of New Jersey plays an important role in curbing the escalation of this devastating trade. Zhifei Li’s conviction is a warning to those who would be lured by the profits of dealing in cruelty.”

    Li, 29, of Shandong, China, the owner of Overseas Treasure Finding in Shandong, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark, N.J., to a total of 11 counts: one count of conspiracy to smuggle and violate the Lacey Act; seven counts of smuggling; one count of illegal wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act; and two counts of making false wildlife documents.

    Li was arrested in Florida in January 2013 on federal charges brought under seal in New Jersey and shortly after arriving in the country. Before he was arrested, he purchased two endangered black rhinoceros horns from an undercover USFWS agent in a Miami Beach hotel room for $59,000 while attending an antique show. Li was arrested as part of “Operation Crash” – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

    In papers filed in Newark federal court, Li admitted that he was the “boss” of three antique dealers in the United States whom he paid to help obtain wildlife items and smuggle them to him via Hong Kong. One of those individuals was Qiang Wang, aka “Jeffrey Wang,” who was sentenced to 37 months in prison on Dec. 5, 2013, in the Southern District Of New York. Li played a leadership and organizational role in the smuggling conspiracy by arranging for financing to pay for the wildlife, purchasing and negotiating the price, directing how to smuggle the items out of the United States, and obtaining the assistance of additional collaborators in Hong Kong to receive the smuggled goods and then smuggle them to him in mainland China.

    “The take-down of the Li smuggling ring is an important development in our effort to enforce wildlife protection laws. Rhino horn can sell for more than gold and is just as rare, but rhino horn and elephant ivory are more than mere commodities. Each illegally traded horn or tusk represents a dead animal, poaching, bribery, smuggling and organized crime,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the law designed to protect wildlife. This is a continuing investigation.”

    “The illegal trade in rhino horn has devastated the wild population of these magnificent animals; with the real possibility emerging that all sub-species will be extinct in the wild within our lifetimes,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “Additionally, the poaching activities have cost the lives of enforcement rangers and wardens as the traffickers have resorted to greater levels of violence to feed the black market. This case reflects the seriousness with which we regard these activities and our commitment to work collectively to quash the conduct and hold the law-breakers accountable.”

    “The staggering prices paid for rhino horn by criminals like Zhifei Li and his accomplices ensure that unscrupulous poachers continue to slaughter these animals, and it’s our hope that his conviction serves as a warning to other traffickers of the severe consequences they face,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Ashe. “The unparalleled greed of criminal trafficking rings like Li’s fuel the poaching epidemic that is decimating rhinoceros populations in the wild. Regardless of whether the horns he smuggled were sawed off the corpse of a rhino last year or a decade ago, each one represents the death of one of the world’s most endangered animals.”

    Rhinoceros are a herbivore species of prehistoric origin and one of the largest remaining mega-fauna on earth. They have no known predators other than humans. All species of rhinoceros are protected under United States and international law. Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horn has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (known as CITES), a treaty signed by over 170 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets.

    In pleading guilty, Li admitted that he sold 30 smuggled, raw rhinoceros horns worth approximately $3 million – approximately $17,500 per pound – to factories in China where raw rhinoceros horns are carved into fake antiques known as Zuo Jiu (which means “to make it as old” in Mandarin. In China, there is a centuries old tradition of drinking from an intricately carved “libation cup” made from a rhinoceros horn. Owning or drinking from such a cup is believed by some to bring good health, and true antiques are highly prized by collectors. The escalating value of such items has resulted in an increased demand for rhinoceros horn that has helped fuel a thriving black market, including recently carved fake antiques.

    According to the charges, plea agreement and a detailed joint factual statement filed in in Newark federal court:

    The investigation of Li began in November 2011, after a confidential informant sold two raw rhino horns to a middleman at the Vince Lombardi rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike in an Operation Crash undercover sale. These government-supplied rhino horns were, in turn, sold to a Long Island City antiques dealer who was working for Li.

    At Li’s direction, raw rhino horns were hidden by wrapping them in duct tape, hiding them in porcelain vases and falsely describing them on customs and shipping documents, including by labeling them as porcelain vases or handicrafts.

    Li purchased 25 raw rhino horns, including 13 endangered black rhinoceros horns weighing approximately 151 pounds, through connections in New York and New Jersey, and another five raw rhino horns weighing at least 20 pounds through an accomplice in Dallas, Texas.

    Li sold whole rhino horns to factories where they would be carved into fake antiques. The leftover pieces from the carving process were sold for alleged “medicinal” purposes even though rhino horn is made of compressed keratin, the same material in human hair and nails and has no proven medical efficacy.

    Between 2011 and 2013, Li purchased approximately 60 carved ivory items from U.S. auction houses with an approximate market value of $500,000, all of which were smuggled to China at Li’s direction.

    Before arriving in Miami, Li sent a text message to the Long Island City antiques dealer saying that he had as much as $500,000 to spend in the U.S. on antiques and rhino horn. When purchasing two rhino horns from an undercover USFWS agent at a Miami Beach hotel, Li told the covert agent that he was interested in buying more rhino horns regardless of quality, as much as the agent could find, and inquired if the horns could be shipped directly to Hong Kong.

    In April 2012, after a Dallas-based accomplice purchased a large, eight-pound raw rhino horn for Li in Florida worth more than $140,000, Li sent the dealer an email directing him to cut the horn into two pieces, wrap them in electrical tape, and send them to Hong Kong in separate packages. The email included a photo of the rhino horn with a red line drawn though it indicating where the lengthy horn should be cut.

    After Li’s conspirator in Long Island City purchased two raw elephant tusks for Li weighing more than 100 pounds, Li sent instructions by email that the shipper should declare the contents as “automobile parts” and not use the word “tusk” on the shipping documents.

    Li smuggled libation cups carved from rhinoceros horns from the U.S. to Hong Kong. Rhino carvings valued as much as $242,500 were sold to Li’s customers in China. In early 2013, one of those customers, Shusen Wei, pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to knowingly buying a smuggled rhino carving from Li.

    The plea agreement requires Li to forfeit $3.5 million in proceeds of his criminal activity as well as several Asian artifacts. Also, various ivory objects seized by the USFWS as part of the investigation will be surrendered. The maximum potential penalty is 10 years for each of the smuggling counts and five years for each of the other offenses, as well as a $250,000 fine per count, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing before Judge Salas has been scheduled for April 1, 2014.

    The investigation is continuing and is being handled by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.

    The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen P. O’Leary and Barbara Ward of the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division and Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and Senior Counsel Richard A. Udell of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

    13-475

    Defense counsel: Gary Cutler Esq., New York

    Li, Zhifei Superseding Information
    Li, Zhifei JFS
    Li, Zhifei JFS Exhibits
    Li Exhibt 1
    Li Exhibit 1a
    Li Exhibit 2
    Li Exhibit 7
    Li Exhibit 10
    Li Exhibit 10a
    Li Exhibit 11
    Li Exhibit 12

  27. Cave
    January 11, 9:18 pm

    I think whoever heads the DSC and it’s employees are a Mentally sick +crazy = Disaster, for Goodness sake, who gives you the right to put a price on a living animal, what’s wrong with we humans? Why is Money really getting us too greedy to an extent we stop valuing life in other living creatures like we are !, would you feel happy someone hunting you people for game ?, seriously why do we humans prove to be very stupid than wild animals ? There is a class of humans on this world that just deserve to be buried alive and just take them out of the normality of human society..”HUMAN GREED,WHEN WILL IT EVER END ? “

  28. Jeanne
    Hawaii
    January 11, 7:04 pm

    Yes, there is another way to save the rhino, elephants and gorillas make the Chinese Government pay the piper for allowing their citizens to profit from all the massacre that is going on in Africa right now.

  29. chuck
    france
    January 11, 10:18 am

    Bill Bryson said it rather succinctly when commenting on the extinction of the Dodo:
    “You would be hard pressed, I would submit, to find a better pairing of occurrences to illustrate the human being – a species of organism that is capable of unravelling the deepest secrets of the heavens while at the same time pounding into extinction, for no purpose at all, a creature that never did us any harm and wasn’t even remotely capable of understanding what we were doing as we did it.”
    We really don’t need an excuse such as ‘it’s a predator so we have to kill it’ … we kill because we can even when its only meaning is to kill.
    For those who would argue for the killing (it is only one/five rhinos) they are ignoring that it is the tendency or inclination to kill that we must alter not the numbers which are only indicators of the inclination.
    BTW the Dallas Club is not indicative of Texans but rather of a minority of people around the world who simply ignore or are incapable of recognizing the problem of killing for ‘sport’ no matter what the rationalization. Very sad, dangerous people this lot.

  30. samanthia downs
    eustis, florida
    January 11, 9:13 am

    Have all these people lost their mind? Pretty soon they will be killing us so we can reproduce faster. Where is your heart? Do not worry though GOD will remember who you are. And ask you why you were so disturb that you had to kill an animal of HIS. That you had kill a defenseless animal, you all should be ashamed of your whole worthless life. GOD gives back to you all bad that you do. What you do in this life will come around to bit you on the but. Your group is just killers.

  31. Trishia
    January 11, 4:00 am

    ‘Beware the beast man, for he is the devil’s pawn.
    Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport, or lust or greed.
    Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours.
    Shun him. Drive him back into his jungle lair:
    For he is the harbinger of death.’

    The Twenty-third Scroll, Ninth Verse
    (Planet Of The Apes 1968)

  32. Richard Natoli-Rombach
    Rochester, NY
    January 10, 10:24 pm

    The argument that this is an old male rhino that would threaten another younger reproducing male and serve a far better purpose by being killed is totally a biased human perspective. We don’t kill older male humans to serve a far better purpose and insure they do not spread their genetics or eliminate non reproducing males.

    Older silverback mountain gorillas fight and can cause serious harm or death to each other or other members of a group. Infanticide is not uncommon with mountain gorillas. I don’t see anyone raising funds for the conservation of mountain gorillas by having one shot. There would be an outrage if this happened. And before anyone thinks I don’t know what I am speaking of I studied mountain gorillas in1974 as a research assistant with Dian Fossey.

    Yes, nature is heartless and cruel at times but also nurturing. It is not nature that is presently killing rhinos and elephants by the thousands or made mountain gorillas and a multitude of other species endangered. It is humans and humans alone that have caused this. To think otherwise just illustrates how some humans have no perspective on nature and take its name in vain to support their own needs. Rhinos, elephants, and mountain gorillas have existed for many thousands of years in concert with nature and have suffered, thrived and continued to carry on.

  33. Serena Hamm
    Lincolnton, NC (but from Texas)
    January 10, 9:22 pm

    I would love to hear that someone buys this permit for the purpose of it NOT being used. That way the money still goes toward the conservation and a beautiful, amazing rhino does not have to die.

  34. Lorraine
    United Kingdom
    January 10, 4:23 pm

    If Every Bull pasts its best was “shot” for the good of conservation, every state in Africa who have Rhino would be queuing up to get their permit from Cites it is only Namibia that are exploiting this cash “cow” Cites have not changed this permit allowance of 5 Black Rhino since 2005, very disturbing given the massive losses to Poaching this past year. I am sure there are more than 5 old bulls still around and populations were growing nicely..so the science behind this argument seems at odds… to many conflicting opinions on this to give it any validity at all. This is a government cashing in on a “prized” Trophy that some rich old fool past his own prime can brag about to the inner circles of the hunting fraternity, that mostly don’t give a rats about conservation

  35. kristina
    January 10, 3:41 pm

    This article makes a lot more sense to me than all the killing for conservation articles do. If killing for conservation really worked, they would not be so endangered. Obviously money and greed are the winners in this game.
    “We’ve seen this perverse economic incentive happen with polar bears and tigers, where perceived rarity has caused “collectors” to rush out and try to kill or own the last pieces of these animals, and the price for their parts have sky-rocketed, thereby making extinction that much more likely.”
    So true.

  36. Terik
    United States
    January 10, 2:36 pm

    There must be another way to save the Rhino without killing it. This makes no sense, The Dallas Safari club is so warped in their thinking and its insane to justify this hunt even with their reasoning, its crazy. Trophy and canned hunting needs to stop!! Leave the lions, giraffes, rhino, crocs, zebra, cats , dogs etc.. alone. These people are so deranged they would probably hunt humans if they can get away with it. They kill just to kill cause it makes them feel good. I could see hunting for food and some culling at times ( maybe deer) but this hunt is crossing the line.

  37. Viviana Holm
    Denmark
    January 10, 2:21 pm

    I agree with you Jeff Flocken! This is wrong in so many levels.
    One of them being the damaging message this would send both to other millionaires and to local communities.
    I hope a millionaire buys the permit without killing the rhino!
    Retrograde hunters …

  38. Mike
    January 10, 1:05 pm

    The killing of any beautiful animal like that is awful. The rhino’s death is part of mother nature’s evolution. When it’s time it’s time. The new top dawg(rhino) will come along and move him out of his top spot. It’s just part of life. Let it be. The hunting of animals like this is so weak due to how easy it is. They male/female hunters are lead by others and told what to do. Seriously? That’s hunting?

    Now let me play devil’s advocate.

    How much money that other governments/organizations give goes towards the actual conservation rather than governmental pockets? Does money made off of the tourism go towards the conservation? If so, how much of it? I know it’s hard to do but totally imagining no killing whatsoever, what would/could $1 million do towards the conservation? Nobody can sit here and say that it would do nothing. They would take it in an instant.

  39. Eric Mills
    Oakland, California
    January 10, 12:50 pm

    A poem by former U.S. Poet Laureate William Stafford:

    “MEDITATION”

    Animals full of light
    walk through the forest
    toward someone aiming a gun
    loaded with darkness.

    That’s the world: God
    holding still
    letting it happen again,
    and again and again.

  40. Amy Pruett
    United States
    January 10, 11:45 am

    All “killing clubs” should be banned! But I get it, too much money goes to Mr Politician for them to care! This $1 million DSC is expecting to gain on this black rhinos head will not go towards conservation as they say! Where is DSC gain for doing this, they are full of crap! Killing another black rhino is just that, there isn’t anything conservation about it. How about we kill the killing clubs instead! Many more animals will be saved that way!

  41. Leda Tilton
    Kentucky, USA
    January 10, 11:19 am

    Egos and insecurities gone amok under the guise of “saving” wildlife

  42. Sandra Faucher
    Canada
    January 10, 9:34 am

    How lucky for that “non-reproducing older male” ….another example of “mankind’ controlling nature and deciding who lives and who dies. No wonder many animals are endangered and many are extinct. This is all about Money at the animal’s expense. Shame on “mankind”.

  43. christine olle
    USA
    January 10, 9:22 am

    You can learn a lot from a person who wants to kill and justify the senseless act………….My heart aches for this beautiful creature who was put on this Earth to serve a greater purpose than entertaining humans. Until people wake up no one is safe – http://technorati.com/lifestyle/green/article/trophy-hunters-the-lies-that-hide/

  44. Rhian Parker
    United Kingdom
    January 10, 8:53 am

    Not conservation, blood lust put and simple.

  45. Daniel Jost
    Zurich Switzerland
    January 10, 8:43 am

    How about an auction to hunt South Africa’s shamefully corrupt “Minister of Environement” Edna Molewa for conservation?

  46. stephanie blair
    South Africa
    January 10, 8:35 am

    Thank you Jeff Flocken ! It is so uplifting to read a balanced report!
    The DSC is auctioning this animal because it is endangered and because the horn is so valuable. That is the bottom line. Virtually no money ever gets to “conservation” and “protection” in these countried. It all ends up in the pockets of politicians and friends.

  47. Karen Cobb
    United Kingdom
    January 10, 8:09 am

    To answer some questions here, the Rhino is of age to produce. Dallas Safari Club states he should be shot because he chases off other males from his female, so he dies. So someone go to one of these hunters and touch up their wifes, see what happens. NATURE HAPPENS.
    Today Dallas Safari Club did their New Year poster and its states “Come Kill an Animal to Extinction”, just shows you what they really want.

    Fed up with these Canned/Trophy hunters making the excuse that this is conservation. If it were, let the Rhino breed, that is conservation.

    Also see that WWF support this, well they would. The CEO is a Canned Hunter. See Save Our Rhino are supporting this, they would, they support “ethical” hunting and pro trade for horn sale. See CITES is supporting this, well they are the Convention for INTERNATIONAL TRADE and most of them are hunters and mostly run by Safari Club International, a hunting organisation.

    From the BBC News today on their own report. Wildlife Near Extinction.

    - A majority now occupy less than half their former ranges according to data published in the journal, Science.

    The loss of this habitat and prey and persecution by humans has created global hotspots of decline.

    The researchers say the loss of these species could be extremely damaging for ecosystems the world over.

    The authors say that in the developed world, most carnivorous animals have already succumbed to extinction.

    When they looked at 31 big meat eaters, they found that they were under increasing pressure in the Amazon, South East Asia, southern and East Africa.

    “Globally, we are losing our large carnivores,” said lead author Prof William Ripple from Oregon State University.

    About time these Hunters got out of Africa and leave the wildlife alone to recoup their numbers.

  48. Patricia Stillman
    Ohio
    January 10, 8:07 am

    How do they know the rhino has no sperm? If the rhino were this docile to inspect why are they saying it is a violent animal? If the hunters want a real challenge they should do the world a favor and try to catch poachers. Would you kill your dog or horse because it is old? All other points against this egocentric and violent act have been stated. We humans have a defect in our DNA to have such a killing nature. Animals have none of the 7 deadly sins. We are doomed to if we don’t find a way to stop slaughtering one another and nature.

  49. Margaret Leach
    United States
    January 10, 8:02 am

    First of all, lets be honest. Its about money. For the DSC and the greedy government of Namibia. Next, its about who has the most money to “win” the opportunity to kill an endangered (and thereby very rare) African black Rhino and hang its head and all of the photos of the “hunt” , on said wealthy man’s wall.
    But…let me ask you this: This old tired rhino- the one too old to produce offspring; the one no longer “useful to the heard”-is he going to be useful (well his head, anyway) is his head going to be useful on some guy’s wall? I mean other than collecting dust and making his now idiot owner feel like a real hardcore manly man? Whats next?
    If we allow/condone/sponsor the killing of this beautiful , wild, and very much endangered creature, then every single endangered animal will be up for auction one minute, and up on the wall the next.
    Why is it you people need to take a beautiful animal, kill it, and hang it up on your wall?
    Whats next? There are way too many people on this planet. What do you say to this idea? We “cull the heard”. Starting with old rich fat trophy hunters. Too old to produce offspring. No longer useful to their heard. Stick him out in the woods, chase him around for a little while and when hes falling down and out of breath,.just shoot him and cut off his head. Hang it in his den next to the rhino that he killed back in the day! Then both heads can collect dust together.
    You know, maybe you dont think this rhino’s life is valuable. But.I bet the rhino thinks his life is valuable. And maybe his heard thinks hes pretty damn valuable as well.
    Spend the damn money promoting eco tourism. Spend the money on sanctuaries for old useless rhinos. But stop pretending this is about conservation.

  50. Lois Olmstead
    January 10, 7:46 am

    The argument that it’s OK to kill this animal because he’s too old to reproduce and is dangerous to other rhinos is specious. First of all, is it actually true that he’s too old to reproduce and dangerous to other rhinos? Who’s come up with that excuse? If this were the case, then wildlife managers could take care of the so-called ‘problem.’ Should we consider culling men who are too old to reproduce and who are dangerous not only to their own species, but to all others?
    The REAL reason for this event is that there are people who love to kill. Period. And then they like to pretend that they’re brave and strong and are able to bring down a dangerous animal with a piece of modern day weaponry. It’s an abhorrent concept in any event, but to kill an endangered species which is under extreme threat is particularly outrageous. And to have this auction sanctioned by the USFish and Wildlife Service and the World Wildlife Fund is beyond the pale.

  51. Neon Blade
    Australia
    January 10, 7:39 am

    There is no logical argument for this. Shooting that Rhino is just sick. The people who support this are sick. There is NO justification for trophy hunting.
    In the not-too-distant future people will look back on this with total disbelief. Trophy hunting will be viewed with the same disdain as we , in a modern world, will view racism and slavery.

  52. Margaret Leach
    United States
    January 10, 7:31 am

    Lets just get to the truth of it all. Its about money. Its about the thrill of killing a large endangered (and thereby rare) animal and hanging its head and all of the photos of the kill in some wealthy man’s den. But its not very sportsman like is it? I mean t

  53. paulm
    January 10, 6:02 am

    Kill every large animal in the world now save cows and sheep to stop putting us through the torture of a slow and long extinction process.

  54. A Jacob
    January 10, 5:45 am

    Why does wild-life has to ‘earn’ for it to be allowed to live on this Earth? We, as humans and the Government of the country in particular is supposed to protect wild-life and preserve it for its future generations. Why should we decide a rhino said to be – an older male? said to be beyond reproductive age? aggressive to younger ones? should not be allowed to live, who set up these standards for its existence? And want to really know where does the auction money actually go? If Trophy hunting really helps in preventing poaching then why are rhinos poached in South Africa?

  55. Deon Pretorius
    South Africa
    January 10, 5:44 am

    Thank you for a well written, informed article on the subject Jeff Flocken

  56. Laura Culbert
    Oxfordshire, uk
    January 10, 5:25 am

    Andrew believe that if it helps you sleep at night! There were millions of rhinos before man started massacring them! They managed quite well without our intervention.
    The ONLY reason the DSC are auctioning this permit is to kill a rhino and mount it’s beautiful head on their wall! We all know it has nothing to do with conservation! They are cowards and hypocrites

  57. Monica Gilbert
    Australia
    January 10, 5:08 am

    Jeff Flocken, thank you for writing a sensible and balanced piece of journalism on the Dallas Safari Club’s abhorrent plan to kill a rhino just because they can. There is no conservancy. This is nothing more than blood lust to kill an endangered creature before some other rich American gets there first. The arguments on how it’s better for the species to kill a rhino to save the population is just smoke and mirrors.

  58. Karen Call
    Gainesville, TX
    January 10, 5:02 am

    “This may seem heartless and cruel, but at the end of the day, nature itself is quite heartless and cruel.”

    Oh wow, Andrew. What twisted logic.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. And killing is NOT conservation. Do we auction off one child to save the rest from child labor/abuse?

    “Don’t play their game. Don’t call them “hunters”. They are not hunters by any stretch of the imagination. They are thrill killers, cowardly animal assassins, running around with their novelty weapons, pink bows, spears, custom rifles etc, taking pot shots at wildlife, running back to boast about it on the internet to their fellow sadists. What’s next? Blowpipes with slow acting poison darts so they can film yet another form of slow death?

    Call them for what they are, “Thrill Killers” who enjoy cruelty and spilling blood.

    Don’t listen to what they say to us, it is lies. Listen instead to how they talk to each other in their groups and on their blogs. That is really eyeopening stuff. The overt sadism and mockery of suffering animals, the selfish greed for the bigger trophy, the literal salivation at seeing animals in the wild for killing, the sordid fixed hunting competitions to travel the world for the sole purpose of killing.
    What scum we share this planet with.

    Conservation? When a thrill killer uses this word, it is merely another one of their euphemisms for selfishly sustaining animals so they are there to kill. It’s nothing to do with helping animals, it’s a perverted way of keeping them healthy for themselves, just so there is always a supply of animals to kill.

    Expose them, don’t waste your breath engaging them in debate. That is a game they play. What they say in debate is a cover, it is a deceit. Look to what they say to each other for the truth, and then look at what they actually do for the truth… it is very, very ugly…”

    I would much rather live out my life to its natural, peaceful conclusion than be murdered–what a human or non-human animal does in no way removes the moral responsibility from your own head.

    If these men/women love animals, they will donate towards the animals’ life for the love of the animals’ life, not for their deaths. And definitely not killing more endangered species. We can do better.

  59. Susan
    Los Angeles
    January 10, 1:35 am

    The comment about “the perverse economic incentive” hits the nail on the head. This kind of exorbitant value placed on a critically endangered species drives up the value of its body parts. So while the money from this auction may go to conservation (I would like to see the money trail – where are those dollars really going?), a perhaps unintended consequence is that there is now even greater value on rhino horn. Greater value, greater demand, more poaching. If USFWS considers this a good conservation plan, they should consider that Texas is a center of illegal rhino horn trade. USFWS Director Dan Ashe has said that the trade in “legal” rhino horn drives the illegal trade. If this “trophy” (otherwise known as a murdered animal’s head) is allowed to be brought back to the U.S., what’s to keep it from being traded? Having that body part with a huge price tag on it will not help to conserve the species. In fact, it does just the opposite.

    Besides the faulty economic arguments, why is it such a thrill to kill a majestic creature? If these hunters have so much money, why do they have to use it to kill? That’s a serious question. What is so rewarding about pulling a trigger and murdering a majestic animal?

  60. wendi
    January 10, 12:51 am

    Let nature take it’s course then. If this rhino dies from old age or whatever, then other animals will feed off it’s carcas s. Stuffedand posed in some rich assholes living room does no good. You’re rich, go find something interesting to do other than shooting animals.

  61. ericka
    January 9, 10:54 pm

    Many of us are old and have reached the end of our reproductive usefulness, but we’re still here, taking up space, consuming, watching television, driving cars, voting. Shall we let heartless nature take its course, or auction off a kill permit?

  62. Lauren Swan
    United States
    January 9, 9:47 pm

    Ostensibly and sadly, how do You know that this elder male will not help to grow this herd and therefore is no longer useful?Just how vitally important is this to the herd that he needs to be killed off? What kind of science do you have that proves if the older male is not killed he will kill the younger ones? They’ve been here for thousands of years so that doesn’t seem like a real promising argument. I can take the so called heartless and cruelty of nature just fine. What I can’t stomach are arrogant, misinformed, fakes like you who don’t have any insight, common sense and guts to say it the way it is. We’re men, we’re better and we have the right to kill anything we want!

  63. Rex Hamlet
    North Carolina
    January 9, 8:15 pm

    Thanks Andrew,if people can not understand that hunting is conservation it shows there stupidity.They are probably the same idiots that protested and ended horse slaughter in this country.Now we have horses being released to fend for thereself and even more being starved to death because there is no market for them.Good luck to the winner of this auction!!

  64. Sallie
    Texas
    January 9, 5:46 pm

    Jade, I understand that you are opposed to hunting for sport and that is your right. But your belief cannot change facts, nor can you force these multi-millionaires who will bid at the auction to simply donate their money for conserving wildlife. But, I understand that you refuse to listen to reason and that too is your right. My question is, would you argue as stongly for a starving American child?

  65. Sallie
    Texas
    January 9, 3:41 pm

    I agree with Andrew from Texas. Science supports what he says, not emotions. Let’s listen to the science, sound land management, and use our heads.

  66. Jade
    January 9, 1:07 pm

    It is hardly a matter of which individual rhino will be killed! The issue here is the concept of killing an endangered animal for the fun of it. As long as this concept is embraced and celebrated, no species will be safe.

  67. Dennis Jorgensen
    Bozeman
    January 9, 12:32 pm

    I would like to offer another perspective on the things that can be achieved when wildlife has value to hunters. The change that has taken place in Namibia following the establishment of conservancies is nothing less than astounding and tells a hopeful story. http://worldwildlife.org/stories/namibian-communities-take-the-lead-on-conservation

  68. Andrew
    Texas
    January 9, 12:00 pm

    What this article sadly (and ostensibly intentionally) omits is that the auction winner will only be allowed to shoot a non reproducing, older male. This is vitally important for two reasons:

    1. This male would not be reproducing and helping grow the existing black rhino population. Biologically, it has reached the limit of it’s usefulness to the herd.

    2. Older males are known to be more aggressive and kill younger males. This has a net negative impact on the population and prevents it from growing at a faster pace.

    This may seem heartless and cruel, but at the end of the day, nature itself is quite heartless and cruel. If not killed by this hunter, the rhino would have eventually been killed by age, disease, or even possibly another rhino, without ever having helped its species through reproduction again. The auction winner may kill 1 black rhino, but if the money from the auction saves other rhinos through poaching prevention, or it prevents that 1 rhino from killing another younger, reproducing male, that 1 rhino’s death would have served a far greater purpose. Not only would there be a higher population of black rhinos to increase genetic diversity, but there would be more for eco tourists to pay money to see. The entire purpose of this auction is not to further limit the population of black rhinos, but to encourage their population’s future growth through effective population management.