Wednesday 15th January 2014
A rhino hero – died for the good of the species
Emerging a bit shaken from the fiasco of their Elephant Summit on December 2nd-4th in Botswana, the IUCN now seems to have taken another hit. It appears they officially supported the auction at the Dallas Safari Club of a highly endangered black rhino to be shot as a trophy, at a reported $350,000 winning bid. The successful bid was apparently made by Corey Knowlton, who works with global hunting agent The Hunting Consortium. It therefore begs the question if Corey will shoot the rhino himself, or perhaps, acting as an agent, will sell the rhino on to another client. Also, it is uncertain at this point whether the rhino to be shot has been identified and whether it is the property of the Nambian state or a private owner.
This is important, because if the rhino is in private hands, then shooting that farmed animal will not contribute in any way to the conservation of wild rhinos. Private rhinos are heavily managed and maintained to breed as much as they can for profit, while wild rhinos have to fend for themselves.
And what percentage of the profit from the $350,000 paid for the permit will go to a private owner instead of the supposed Namibian trust fund? Much more about this hunt needs to be made public.
South African Mike Knight, head the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group, joined Australian Rosie Cooney, head of the IUCN sustainable use and livelihoods specialist group in backing the auction.
In a report in the New Scientist it emerges that IUCN support had been given last year. The report quotes Mike Knight of South African National Parks, who chairs IUCN's rhino specialist group:
"While it appears counter-intuitive, the removal of the odd surplus male... can actually enhance overall metapopulation growth rates and further genetic conservation"
Knight says such rogue animals get in fights and kill others, including breeding females and calves. Moreover, "female reproductive performance significantly improves as the ratio of adult males to adult females declines, resulting in faster growing populations". "Removing a bull that used to dominate breeding in the herd will also reduce the risk of inbreeding. “
So once again, and we have heard this argument out of the mouths of many, shooting the “odd surplus male” rhino is actually doing the population a favour, as these males are nothing but rogues that, in their doddering last years, go out of their way to kill females and calves.
News to me – and one does have to wonder how rhinos survived for all those millions of years without the IUCN and the DSC? Surely those old age pensioner males would have decimated rhino populations year in and year out?
But clearly the IUCN knows better. Kill them for a lot of money so the poor calves don’t have to worriedly look over their shoulders all the time and the rhino populations can be better protected and managed.
This is a trend in “sustainable” conservation by the way – the IUCN also says it’s fine to kill old male lions (they should actually say it’s OK to kill all male lions because those very naughty animals kill cubs and sometimes females when they take over prides).
Picture credit: www.africanhunting.com
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Posted by Chris Macsween at 14:53
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