Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The wrongs and rights of the USA granting an import licence for rhino horn

· There is a huge outcry in Africa and most of the world about the current desperate state of rhino poaching in Africa, where more than 1000 rhinos will probably be killed this year alone for their horn. There is an on-going campaign around the world to stop this slaughter, but what kind of message does it send to China & Vietnam, the principle markets, when the USA states that they must stop importing rhino horn, but it is OK for the USA to do it 

· The US Fish and Wildlife Service states that Namibian Government's 'Game Products Trust Fund' received a contribution of $175,000 to authorize hunting that resulted in the taking of the 34-year-old male rhino, and that the 'Money accrued from trophy hunting of black rhinos directly funds conservation efforts for the species.' Whilst that may be so (It is a separate debate to be had about hunting paying for conservation), the money went into that fund FOR SHOOTING THE RHINO, NOT IMPORTING THE HORNS. The fund received that money 4 years ago when the animal was shot. 

· The rhino that was hunted was passed breeding age, and was a potential threat to younger, healthy rhino. 

· Rhino conservation efforts in Namibia receive a considerable boost from the funds generated by the hunt. 

John Jackson, of Conservation Force, is a strong advocate of hunting as a force for good in conservation, and apparently played a key part in getting the licence granted by the USFWS. 

Jackson said: "The hunting was part of a conservation plan. The import will double or more the price of the select, certified, post-reproductive rhino each year. The strategy is to generate $500,000.00 or more of essential conservation funds for each soon-to-die due to age or fighting rhino. American hunters pay more for what they can bring home as memorabilia - a lot more. Of course, all license or special fee revenue to the operating budget pays for most conservation worldwide. Are you sure you know enough to write an article?" Read the full Conservation force bulletin on rhino horn trophies

US allows Republican donor to import rhino horn from Namibia
On March 28, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife issued a permit for the importation of a black rhinoceros horn shot in Namibia in 2009. (According to Business Week, the rhino was shot by David K. Reinke, a big donor to Republican political candidates). The granting of the licence caused an outcry in many circles, but others accepted it as part of a 'necessary evil', as the substantial amount of money raised will go back into rhino conservation. 

Conservation & trophy hunting
Many major conservation organisations are, in a very qualified way, in favour of strictly controlled and regulated trophy hunting when it further the cause of, and generates funds for, conservation.

The hunter's view 
Reinke himself is quoted as saying, by abc news, "My desire is to help save the rhino through a scientific method approved by the United States and other agencies," Reinke said. "It's all about conservation. 

Reinke also shot a spotted hyena, two Gemsbok, a kudu, a Damaraland springbuck, a zebra, a giraffe, and a 'free range desert lion (What other sort are there? Oh yes, canned.), and probably many more. We have no information about whether he imported these 'trophies' into the USA.

However, according to Conservation Force, "He is a very experienced dangerous game hunter who has taken all the Big Five (not black rhino) a number of times." We would like to know whether all these animals were shot purely because "It is all about conservation." 

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