National Geographic released an article today about the Dallas Safari Club’s most recent fundraising endeavor and it is pissing a lot of people off. The controversy arises from what they are offering their patrons to raise funds – the opportunity to hunt an endangered black rhino. Now, I don’t regularly advocate the hunting of endangered species whose very close relative recently went extinct in the wild, but, Dallas Safari Club’s fundraising strategy is not as ill thought out as all the Facebook comments seem to imply it is. What these angry people are completely disregarding are two things:
The auction prize allows them to hunt specific rhino which are no longer contributing members to the population which, in turn, allows the rhino population to grow by removing counterproductive individuals from a herd. This hunt has also been approved by CITES, US Fish and Wildlife and International Union for Conservation of Nature.
100 percent of the auction proceeds will support the Conservation Trust Fund for Namibia's Black Rhino. The Dallas Safari Club predicts this item to bring in a minimum of $250,000. Last year’s event to help the lions (which, yes, included a lion hunt auction item) raised millions.
The issue is most people, primarily brought on by the tree-hugger variety of environmentalist, think of hunting as poaching. But, while, yes, all poachers (by definition) are hunters, all hunters are NOT poachers. In fact, responsible hunters are proving themselves to be more of a solution to the problem rather than being the problem itself. Hunters are actually more interested in true conservation because if they overhunt they will no longer be able to hunt, so they actually have a higher personal investment in the success of a species than animal lover onlookers who have never seen an animal in the wild.
Think of it this way, hunting organizations, such as the Dallas Safari Club, contribute $300 million annually to conservation. In addition to that, $4.2 billion has been contributed to conservation since 1937 through a 10% federal excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and gear. As I have said time and time again, the world is run by those who have the money. And who has money? Rich, hunting enthusiasts. Who doesn’t? Me (a budding conservationist). So, bid away, hunters. The more you bid on this item the better. And to whoever wins, I hope it’s the experience of a lifetime.