By: Sophie McAdam,
A Texas hunting club caused controversy this week after it auctioned off a permit to kill a Namibian black rhino for $350,000. Protesters gathered outside the Dallas safari club to show their opposition and organizers have even received death threats from animal rights activists, but the club defended its actions by claiming the money raised will go towards future wildlife conservation. They justified the sale by pointing out the unlucky rhino is an old, aggressive non-mating male, and that in selling the chance to kill this creature they could protect many more of the critically endangered species. They say money will be donated to the Namibian government and is “earmarked for conservation”.
But is it ethical to kill one black rhino in order to save others? Most charities and conservation experts have strongly condemned the idea, calling for a move towards alternative, compassionate conservation methods.
Humane Society International have launched a campaign to put pressure on the U.S fish and wildlife service to refuse permission for the winner to bring their ´prize´ back to America. More than 80,000 people have signed online petitions against the controversial auction, and scientist and animal rights activist Marc Bekoff also slammed the move, saying: “Killing animals to save others sets a bad example and a regrettable precedent and is not the way to foster peaceful coexistence. When people say they kill animals because they love them this makes me feel very uneasy.” He goes on: “The world is in dire need of healing and we must revise some of the ways in which we attempt to coexist with other animals. Compassionate conservation stresses that the life of every individual matters and trading off an individual for the good of their own or another species is not an acceptable way to save species.”
Namibia is home to one third of the world´s 5,000 black rhinos and issues just three hunting permits a year- which is three too many for some activists, who called the auction “perverse” and “a sad joke”.
“This auction is telling the world that an American will pay anything to kill their species,” Jeffrey Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) told the Associated Press. “This is making a spectacle of killing an endangered species.”