Some African rhino range states, such as Kenya and Botswana, are completely opposed to trophy hunting; others, including Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, allow the hunting of other species, but not rhinos. Black rhino populations declined significantly in the 20th century due to European hunters and settlers. Between 1960 and 1995, the number of black rhinos fell by 98% to less than 2,500. Since then, the species has made a comeback after being on the brink of extinction. Thanks to ongoing conservation efforts in Africa, the number of black rhinos has doubled from an all-time low 20 years ago to around 5,500 today. However, the black rhino is still considered critically endangered, and much remains to be done to bring the numbers down to even a fraction of what it once was – and to ensure it stays there. Wildlife crime – in this case poaching and the black market trade in rhino horn – continues to weigh on the species and threatens its recovery. Currently, poaching to meet continued consumer demand for rhino horn remains a major problem. It has been responsible for a recent and significant decline in the number of white rhinos in South Africa`s Kruger National Park, where hunting is not allowed. The numbers dropped by 75% between 2011 and 2020. In 2004, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) approved quota applications from Namibia and South Africa, allowing each country to offer a maximum of five black rhino trophy hunts per year, but only to male black rhinos that meet certain criteria. Black rhino trophy hunting is only allowed under strict permit conditions, and permits are issued by the country`s CITES administrative authorities. Black rhinos selected for trophy hunting are selected according to biological principles: rhinos are old, usually post-breeding bulls that can harm the entire rhino population by being aggressive or territorial.
Eliminating a “problematic” individual can result in a higher growth rate or greater genetic diversity of the population as a whole. The government claims that the population of black rhinos is increasing and also gives permission to hunt 10 leopards and 150 elephants While security costs have increased, the value of live rhino sales has fallen, making the sale of rhinos unprofitable (given the additional costs associated with rhinos on their own land, there appears to be less demand). In 2013, the average price of a rhino was $38,000; By 2018, the average had fallen to $14,000. The number of black rhinos has increased in recent years with stricter conservation management, but dozens are still poached illegally each year for their horns, which are sold on the black market for use in traditional Chinese medicine and as a status symbol. Horns are made up largely of the protein keratin, also the main component of hair and nails. Since white rhino trophy hunting was authorized in 1968, the southern white rhino population has grown from 1,800 to about 18,000 in 2018. The number of black rhinos also increased from 3,500 in 2004 (when CITES quotas were introduced) to about 5,500 in 2018. “The approval of this permit violates the fundamental principles of the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service is advocating the importation of a hunting trophy for an endangered species on the grounds that killing animals promotes conservation,” said Anna Frostic, Senior Wildlife Advocate at the Humane Society of the United States.
It is significant that the three endangered species for which FWS has approved trophy imports – black rhinos, bonteboks and Cape Mountain zebras – are highly valued by trophy hunters. “It`s disgusting to see federal wildlife officials patting a Texas billionaire on the back for blowing this incredibly rare rhino,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “We should not sanction the death of this majestic animal by letting this trophy enter the United States. The cruelty of trophy hunting simply does not fit with efforts to save Africa`s endangered wildlife. The movement of surplus rhinos to create new populations and the hunting of a small number of males have helped promote population growth and range expansion. It was gradually adopted throughout South Africa and neighbouring Namibia, and then extended to black rhinos. Trophy hunting has been allowed for southern white rhinos in South Africa since 1968. The number of rhinos hunted per year has been determined by rhino owners, whose financial interest is to maintain a viable breeding population from which future income can be generated. David K. Reinke, president and CEO of a laserjet printer parts wholesaler called Liberty Parts Team and a major donor to Republican political candidates, shot down his black rhino in Namibia in 2009. According to a 2010 report from Businessweek, he paid a total of $215,000 for hunting.
This appears to include a $175,000 contribution to the Namibian government`s Hunting Products Trust Fund, which helps support wildlife protection and management efforts. An organization called the Conservation Force, led by attorney John Jackson, has spent the past four years arguing that Reinke had been allowed to import the trophy into the United States since his hunt. The Conservation Force believes that “hunters and fishers are an indispensable and essential force in protecting wildlife” and has also advocated for the right to import hunting trophies for polar bears, Canadian forest bison and straight hornmarkhorens, as well as other endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) granted the license in March. While public sentiment against hunting and taking rare wild animals with them is certainly on the rise, in the case of African rhinos, this practice has an established history. For the most part, he supported conservation rather than undermined. Reinke`s rhino – a member of the subspecies of the Southern Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) – was shot dead in Namibia`s Waterberg Plateau Park. The hunter traveled with an organization called Thormählen & Cochran Safaris, which now uses a photo of Reinke with the rhino he killed (pictured right) as one of their main selling points.
“The T&C Safaris Namibia trophy hunted its first black rhino in the Namibian desert with American client David K. Reinke,” says their brochure (pdf). “Another important milestone in our quest continues to `strive for ultimate perfection.`” The Humane Society criticized the federal government`s decision to allow Peyerk to import the stuffed remains of the black rhino. Dr. Richard Hannington Emslie, a specialist in rhino conservation, also contributed to this article. Today, black rhinos are still threatened with extinction due to the growing demand for rhino horn from some Asian consumers, especially in Vietnam and China, who use them in traditional medicine.