Animal rights campaigners were outraged this week when a Texan man paid $350,000 to shoot and kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia. The ‘hunter’ said that he felt his action was “100% benefiting the black rhino”.
Sadly the ‘hunters’ who engage in these killing sprees believe that the money they pay for the privilege is then invested into conservation projects, and that this somehow justifies the slaughter. And there’s more bad news for Africa’s wild creatures.
Zambia has recently announced that it is planning to lift its current ban on shooting leopards and lions, a mere two years after it was imposed. Perversely, studies have shown that an increase in the population of white rhinos in South Africa can be directly linked to the increase in privately-managed hunting reserves. Many scientists and governments back such reserves and propose that they actually help to support the recovery of endangered species and reduce poaching.
Protesters however are of the opinion that it’s more a case of how much money can be made by those who run the reserves. Whilst it’s no secret how much hunters are paying to shoot big game, the recipients of the money remain cloaked in secrecy. One thing appears to be certain-- the majority of the cash is not being used for conservation.
Legal game hunting reserves take up vast swathes of land too, meaning that there is much less space for other species. Pressure groups insist that wildlife viewing and photographic holidays are a far more economically viable way of bringing money into local communities. This would also encourage the conservation effort in order to draw more dollars into the areas where the animals live.
One day the killing will stop. Sadly that day will be the day that the last leopard or black rhino drops to its knees in the dust riddled with a trophy hunter’s bullets. The people who run these slaughterhouses will go bankrupt, and the plains will be returned to the remaining animals that live there, until such time as they are sold to the highest bidder.
Image source: kre8360.com