The “anti’s” are at it again and this time their misguided efforts may be the death sentence for three endangered species. Thanks to a group of anti-hunters three species  from northern Africa (scimitar-horned oryx, Oryx dammah, dama gazelle, Nanger dama, and addax, Addax nasomaculatus) have been added to the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits all hunting of these species (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7396832n).

Some of you reading this may think it makes sense to ban the hunting of these species, but there is more to the story. All three species have been labeled extinct in their native ranges. The only reason these species are still present is due to their value to ranchers in the United States. Starting in the 1970s ranchers have been raising these rare, exotic species for the purpose of hunting.Although these species are essentially treated as livestock, most hunting operations try to keep the animals wild to ensure the hunt is as fair and ethical as possible (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7396832n). With individual price tags  ranging from $5,500- $10,000 based off what species is to be hunted, ranchers had plenty of incentive to raise these species instead of cattle. This may be a controversial topic but the conservation benefits cannot be ignored.

Back in the ’70s when ranchers first started to raise these species, the populations of oryx, addax and gazelle in the United States were estimated at 32, 2, and 9 respectively. Now Texas alone is home to 11,000 oryx, 5,000 addax, and 800 gazelle (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/rule-bans-hunting-rare-exotic-antelopes-16065481#.T4Rt_2ChAb0). In only a 40 year period these species have seen a phenomenal increase in their total populations within the U.S. At the same time they have been exterminated from their native lands due to habitat loss, over hunting, war, and climate change.

But now that this ban has gone into place ranchers no longer have incentives to raise these beautiful creatures. Instead the last few months have seen ranchers selling their animals at extremely low prices, some discounted as much as 40-75%) to kill off their herds before they become worthless (http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Hunting-ban-could-see-last-of-unicorns-3453819.php).

The anti-hunters, led by a group named Friends of Animals, may have had good intentions. However, they let their emotions and personal beliefs about hunting overrule sound conservation practices. While it may not seem to be the best answer, I would rather see these animals alive and thriving on hunting ranches than to see them become completely extinct. This would be an absolute tragedy. If we are to ensure the future of this world’s amazing fauna we must be able to set aside our idealogical differences to focus on the real issues threatening wildlife

Scimitar-horned oryx

Addax

Dama gazelle

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