Whatcha lookin' at Mr. Lion? Taxidermy has gotten quite impressive. These are not your typical museum mounts.
Yesterday I had the great opportunity of tagging along with Dr. Derr to the Dallas Safari Club Convention at the Dallas Convention Center. We shmoozed and had meetings with professional hunters, organizations and fellow researchers from 9am-6pm while wandering the hundreds of exhibitors displaying apparel, guns, knives, hunting safaris, taxidermy and more. I made lots of great connections/new friends and had a lot of fun.
As you might remember, part of this convention was an auction that seemed to be quite controversial – the opportunity to hunt a Namibian black rhino. The rhino hunt went for $350,000. The good news – all $350,000 goes to rhino conservation. The bad news – they could have gotten a lot more if it weren’t for the unnecessarily aggressive actions of the opposing wildlife and animal rights groups.
The live auction occurred last night during their banquet. Talk amongst the exhibitors at the beginning of the convention hinted at individuals who were willing to bid up to a million dollars for this particular item whose proceeds go entirely to rhino conservation. However, as the convention proceeded, activists began sending the organization threats, even threatening the lives of the family of the executive director of the organization. The FBI had to be called in and there were rumors of undercover agents in attendance to protect convention attendees just in case something violent were to happen. And, as news of protestors congregating outside the convention center began to spread, bidders began to get scared.
The animal was going to die either way. If the activists managed to somehow stop the auction from happening, the rhino, who needs to be culled, would have been killed by wildlife services rather than a hunter. All these activists have accomplished is reducing the amount of money that could have gone directly to rhino conservation. Mind you, the individuals who were willing to bid more on the item may still make considerable donations. This auction, however, had the guarantee of the donation going directly towards the conservation efforts of that particular species. I hope the activists don’t consider what they did a success because, honestly, it’s a shame and completely counter to what they claim they stand for – saving animals.