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Sumatran Rhino Declared Extinct in Malaysia

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Sad news out of Malaysia. Once a primary habitat for the Sumatran rhino, Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, this country has now been declared void of this magnificent species.

http://news.yahoo.com/hairy-rhino-now-extinct-malaysia-232726584.html

Conservation and Trophy Hunting: Why the DSC black rhino hunt is a big deal

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The recent auctioning a black rhino permit by the Dallas Safari Club has created quite a stir lately. Several animal rights organizations have been protesting and petitioning to prevent the hunt from happening. They have even gone so far as to send death threats to members of DSC and to the winner of the permit. The killing of a black rhino does not sit well with them as they are opposed to hunting or use of wildlife in any fashion or for any reason. However, they fail to see what the hunt represents and reject the scientific evidence that states a hunt like this can have significant benefits for conservation.

The planned hunt actually has significant conservation benefits. All of the money raised through the auctioning of the permit went back into conservation as it was donated to a conservation trust fund managed by Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Along with general habitat improvements that help all species, this money is used to fund relocation efforts to reintroduce rhinos to habitats (O’brien) and microchip the horns of living rhinos to help combat poaching. So the hunting of one rhino in turn saves the lives of many more and allows the populations to thrive.

DSC_0297

In fact trophy hunting is a major part of Namibia’s wildlife management plan. In Namibia the wildlife generally belongs to local conservancies, which are owned and operated by local tribes (Conniff). This brings value to animals which may otherwise be considered nuisances and thus removed or eliminated. Hunting remains one of the largest contributors of wildlife based income (McGranahan). Hunting is often for the first form of wildlife income to come to a conservancy as hunters are easier to accommodate. As hunters do not require the luxuries that tourists do conservancies are able to bring in hunters to raise the capital necessary to build a game lodge so they may later hosts photo tourists (Conniff). Many times it is not even possible to incorporate general tourism in an area due to poor road access, inability to raise the capital to build a lodge, or the area is so arid that game populations are not large enough to attract photo tourists. In these cases hunting is the only means of bringing value to the wildlife.

Namibia’s rhino’s, however, are not owned by the conservancies but rather by the state. This allows the Namibian government to better regulate the fate of their rhinos.  Although CITES provides Namibia with permits for the harvest and export of five rhinos a year the MET often limits it to just three (Conniff). The rhinos hunted are carefully selected and game officials accompany the hunter to make sure the right one is taken. Hunted males are generally older males that are beyond their breeding prime and often very aggressive (Emslie). They have been known to attack and kill other rhinos, not just challenging bulls but cows and calves as well. The removal of these males can trigger a population increase as a younger, more fertile bull will take over the territory and breeding.

Black Rhino

These hunts raise valuable funds for conservation. With 1,750 of Africa’s rhinos living in Namibia, the Namibian government works hard to protect them. While the neighboring country of South Africa lost around 1,000 rhinos last year to poachers, Namibia only lost 2 (Conniff).

Their efforts appear to be working as rhino populations continue to rise as poaching levels remain low. Without regulated hunting though the program would certainly fail as the majority of the funding to support it would dry up. However, the funds will likely not dry up any time soon as the DSC hunt, which so many people protested against, raised $350,000 on its own. The significance of this event cannot be disputed. While hunting may be distasteful to some, you cannot argue against the benefits it provides to conservation.

The bull

References:

Conniff, Richard. A trophy hunt that’s good for rhinos. The New York Times. January 20, 2014.

Emslie, Richard. Rhino hunting. Save the Rhino. 2005.

McGranahan, Devan A. Identifying ecological sustainability factors for ecotourism and trophy hunting operations on private rangeland in Namibia. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. 19: January, 2011.

O’Brien, Ben. Why antis are wrong about Corey Knowlton & hunting the black rhino. Peterson’s Hunting. January 18th, 2014.

Tourism May Be Last Hope to Save India’s Bengal Tiger – Yahoo News

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Tourism May Be Last Hope to Save India’s Bengal Tiger – Yahoo News.

Police arrest Thai pet shop owner with rare lions – Yahoo! News

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Police arrest Thai pet shop owner with rare lions – Yahoo! News.

Wildlife crimes and illegal trade

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A series of articles related to wildlife crimes and illegal trafficking of wildlife parts.

http://www.economywatch.com/economy-business-and-finance-news/the-economics-of-the-illegal-wildlife-trade.29-05.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/28/un-ban-kimoon-wildlife-trafficking-central-africa

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/05/20135262017481252.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-p-farwell/slaughtering-elephants-an_b_3328425.html

Chinese court sentences licensed ivory dealer to 15 years in prison | Wildlife News

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Chinese court sentences licensed ivory dealer to 15 years in prison | Wildlife News.

US will destroy ivory stockpile to fight wildlife trafficking – Yahoo! News

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US will destroy ivory stockpile to fight wildlife trafficking – Yahoo! News.

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