There is nothing more despicable than trophy hunting. What would possess someone to pay $350,000 to kill a black rhino in Namibia, the home to fewer than 2,000 of these magnificent animals? But that is exactly what happened at the Dallas Safari Club, which held an auction to sell the permit to kill a black rhino two weeks ago.
The winning bidder may be disappointed because the U.S. Endangered Species Act lists the black rhino as an endangered species, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may not issue an import permit.
The ESA stipulates that an import permit for an endangered species can be granted if importing a dead black rhino to Texas will enhance the survival of the species in the wild. When the winner applies for the import permit and the application appears in the Federal Register, there is a 30 day period for challenging it. The Humane Society of the United States will challenge the import permit application by providing irrefutable evidence that trophy hunting an endangered species and importing the trophy does not enhance the survival of the species.
Where will it end if we don't stand up to trophy hunters? Will someone at the Dallas Safari Club bid a million dollars to shoot a Siberian tiger? It is harmful and unjust. Our government needs to know that we are not fooled by trophy hunters. They are not looking to save a species. They are only interested in some perverse goal of racking up trophies of rarer and rarer animals.
Some have claimed that the $350,000 will go to rhino protection and conservation in Namibia. However, this is not true. The money will go into a Game Products Trust Fund which is a general fund managed by a board. The board members decide which projects will be funded and these may include projects that have nothing to do with rhinos or even wildlife, such as "rural development".
The way to enhance the survival of endangered rhinos is by reducing demand for rhino horn.
The HSUS has partnered with the government of Vietnam to start a campaign to educate people, particularly children, about the plight of rhinos. Vietnam has it right: buying, selling and transporting rhino horns is illegal, carrying a prison term of up to seven years.
We need to educate Americans that the heads of these beautiful animals don't belong on the wall of someone's trophy room in Dallas.