(CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, a hunter from Dallas bid $350,000 for the rights to kill a black rhino, sparking international controversy and death threats against the hunter himself. But he says the money will go toward conservation awareness of black rhinos and will aid their preservation in the long run — and some experts agree. We examine the debate over trophy hunting, and the larger issue of poaching that left a record 1,000 rhinos dead in South Africa last year.

Guests:
Ben Carter, executive director of the Dallas Safari Club, which held the recent auction to hunt a black rhino
Jeffrey Flocken, North America regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Tawanda Kanhema, investigative reporter working on a documentary about rhino poaching and a student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

  • Neytiri Tskaha

    Killing is NOT Conservation:

    From extensive reading on the topic, it appears that funding wildlife programs in Namibia (as well as South Africa) is the sole (nominal?) justification offered by African nations in offering TROPHY HUNTS featuring critically endangered animals to hunters in the USA and elsewhere.

    The assertion that “science” calls for the removal of the “older” male rhino is debatable and appears to be based on fuzzy “logic”; suppose one does give this “fuzzy logic” the benefit of the doubt; note with care that what is called for is the REMOVAL of the rhino, not KILLING it. Several sanctuaries have offered to host the “problem rhino”; however that option appears to be off the table because it does not bring in the revenue that killing an endangered species on the brink of extinction does.

    This brings us back to funding. Funding for extended wildlife reserves, wildlife corridors, funding to mitigate human-animal-conflict, funding to increase revenues through eco-tourism engaging local communities and funding for aggressive action to mitigate and eradicate and poaching; very little of any of the above appears to be in place -effectively- in South Africa where a rhino is poached once every 9-11 hours; the situation in Namibia appears more nuanced, though several reports suggest that Namibian conservation practices, albeit more credible than their counterparts in South Africa – are still questionable.

    Having distilled the “raison d’être” for the trophy hunt to an equation governed primarily by the need for funding, we must ask the question, aren’t there non-consumptive conservation methods, meaning no-kill conservation methods that can be employed provided the funding were available? if the answer to this question is in the affirmative, we must (the international community) with haste and vigor collaborate to find creative and imaginative ways to increase funding to sustain and grow Africa’s last, splendid and disappearing grandeur – its iconic wildlife.

    Killing a species to conserve it is a grotesque aberration of the best in our species, it demoralizes our species and demeans our character through a violent act, at the risk of employing a controversial analogy, surely we do not sacrifice the life of one child to abuse, to justify the garnering of funds from the exercise – to donate to -say- the child protection services?

    We must ask ourselves why we don’t and that must lead us to the ethical and moral equations which govern our relationship to the earth and all its creatures. What are our values and how do we proceed into the future with an intact and coherent conservation ethic devoid of dissonance?

    The non-human animal is not “owned” by us, it has a life of its own and a body and flesh of its own. When Darwin gave the the world “natural selection, he didn’t factor high powered rifles, telescoping lenses, bullets and trophies on walls. Trophy hunting is a violent practice and an anachronism whose shelf life is long passed.

  • Cary Lang

    Today there are just about 5,000 black rhinos left, living on a fraction of their old territory. That makes them a critically endangered species, just a couple of stops away from becoming extinct. If this old bull is no longer able to breed, have the compassion and let him live out his days free, wild and in the bush………….have a heart!!!

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Thank you. As someone living in South Africa, you Cary have a much better understanding of the situation than most.

  • Lori Sirianni

    Even if “some experts agree” and even if the science bears out, which I doubt, there is still NO moral justification for taking the life of a critically endangered black rhino. As an American, I’m appalled that some of my fellow Americans like Corey Knowlton engage in the most repugnant and odious type of killing: not for food or survival, not in self-defense, not for proven, legitimate conservation, but to satisfy their barbaric thirst for bloodsports. We are not living in the times of the Roman gladiator; we as a society have supposedly risen above the uncivilized bloodlust of centuries ago, haven’t we?

    And even though there will always be disturbed individuals in society who have no ethics or morals and choose to trophy-hunt, it speaks ill of our own U.S. government to permit the “trophies” (carcasses or portions of them) to be imported into the U.S. with one hand, while the other hand is battling the illegal rhino horn trade in Operation Crash and other national crackdowns. Why would our nation permit this contraband into our country in the first place, while they’re tracking illegal rhino horn sales and smuggling (to China) from *previous* trophy hunts? Where’s the logic?

    All wild animals are sentient beings with lives and interests of their own, independent of human wants. It’s just wrong – morally wrong – for a rich American to be able to buy and take the life of an endangered black rhino, remove him from the wild where thousands could observe him, cut off his head, stuff it and hang it on the wall of his private trophy room. Just for his sheer twisted pleasure of pumping bullets into this rhino. We can rise above this barbarism. We as a nation need to stand as one and tell our government, especially the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that we do not accept the government that represents us to allow the remains of this rhino brought back onto U.S.soil. If our government issues an import permit to Corey Knowlton for his trophy, we are all complicit in his act of assassinating an endangered black rhino already on the brink of extinction.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Thank you. Excellent comment.

      • Tamara Birdsall

        Thank you, Lori Sirianni. Agree completely!

  • Hale Anderson

    Corey Knowlton spent 350,000 to have the right to kill a black rhino. He is a hunter. He wants to kill. The discussion regarding whether the money will go toward conservation and aid their preservation in the long run is merely, only… a self-righteous guise – now the hunter is doing good! Discourse should be reoriented to delve into the arcane mentality that says ‘we humans are free to do as we wish’. .. including the tradition of killing an animal for pleasure! I shall take the position that to slaughter an endangered black rhino belongs to the dark ages. We can become wise… if we choose to do so and move beyond tradition and cultural habits that are an expression of the ugliest human hubris – the need to subjugate – a destructive zeitgeist our world can no longer tolerate.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Thank you. Great comment.

    • Tamara Birdsall

      “Killing an animal for pleasure” is the bottom line here. The winning bidder is just a sorry, blood thirsty man with way too much money on his hands.

  • Monica Gilbert

    I have neither the eloquence nor the knowledge of those who have posted before me but I can still express my outrage that a citizen of the USA can blatantly buy the life of an endangered animal living on another continent. Hubris has been mentioned. It is gross hubris and, to my mind, sheer ignorance to think that the rest of the planet will actually believe that killing an endangered black rhino is being done in the name of conservation. It is done because Corey Knowlton has more money than sense, certainly more money than ethics and morals, and wants to be known as the guy who killed an endangered rhino. It’s a monumental shame and proves, without a doubt, that the ugly American is alive and well and living in Dallas.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Bravo Monica.

  • Freddy V

    350.000 to kill 1 animal… you know there are parks in USA who earn millions by wolf tourism. shooting. animals with cameras. Can you count? why do humans always have to kill? why always destroy? We are not in the middleages anymore, we have to evolve to iff we want to survive! will you be able to stand infront of your grandchildren “sorry you can’t see anymore lions, rhinos or elephants it was just so darn fun to kill them”? And don’t give me that conservation crop, nature has don fine millions of years without us interfering. Earn some money with protecting these animals and making pictures of them. it’s better for everyone and everything, but its not the easiest way…

    oh and by the way, I am from Belgium. Just so you know that the entire planet is watching you and judging you and you egocentric actions.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Thank you. You are right; eco tourism may take longer to establish revenue, but data shows that it does better and involves the local communities in protecting wildlife as well as generating employment.

  • Dulali Nag

    Kill an old animal that can no longer procreate to raise fund for conservation? Why don’t we use this brilliant idea to raise a few billion to invest in renewable energy, urgent medical research and reforestation by auctioning off the right to kill off a human who is no longer able to procreate? Why do the humans never use the same logic on themselves as they use on the animals?

    • Freddy V

      100% right…

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      This is (exactly) the question that must be asked that most news stations appear to be avoiding, the issue is far deeper than $$$ for conservation, it’s a moral issue and ethical one. Creativity and imagination can bring about enormous resources to a cause, both Namibia, the Dallas Safari Club and (potentially) the USFWS appear to be employing the path of least resistance and greatest moral turpitude under the “guise” of science.

  • Stephanie Abrams Blair

    As a South African, and as a human being, I am astounded by the “justifications” used by the trophy hunting fraternity. Two statements that need serious follow up are : “Money will go to conservation” will it really? Who is going to follow the money trail? Are they going to actually present proof that the money is handed over, in this case to the Namibian government, and that they will give all of it towards publically acknowledged, reputable conservation organisations? Will we receive reliable reports on the progress of these organisations?
    What will happen to the money the hunter will receive for the horn?

    “the rhino is old and cannot breed” Who actually did a sperm test? Where are the results of the test? What studies were done on this animal to prove that he can add no value to his herd?

    Rhino are critically endangered. Other than instant gratification, what will this achieve for the future of this gentle giant?

    Money is the key to all of this.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Bravo! and thank you.

    • Tamara Birdsall

      Yes the string of justification are just incredible. Talk about grasping for straws.

    • Lori Sirianni

      Thank you, Stephanie, I agree, money is the key to all of this. As always, follow the money.

  • PMW

    So what is actually being said is that the problem is being treated by the cause. What’s the point of that? I don’t see why humans have to meddle with wildlife at all, they all did fine before we arrived.

    And why is it always America that we hear are doing this kind of thing? I’m sure the US isn’t all like this and they really want us to see them as caring individuals, but when all the stories we get are about killing and domination it makes it much harder to believe.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      I am American and I agree.

      • PMW

        I knew you weren’t all like that, Neytiri! It honestly looks that way from the outside though and that’s a shame because I know it isn’t a good representation of the country.

        • Neytiri Tskaha

          Yes, I do agree with you. It looks bad. 🙁

  • Patty Weston

    Just out of curiosity, I would like to hear how the other hunter who killed a rhino feels today about what he did and if he thinks it was worth it. I believe he was the first who had approval and then the USFWS finally after 3 years granted the import of the remains. Not sure if “once a trophy hunter, always a trophy hunter” but do know some hunters who quit because of guilt. Either way, it would be interesting to hear how he feels about it now and if he thinks it would actually help conservation.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Thank you.

  • Denise Dresner

    Regardless of arguments about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ science (used with equal claim to the truth on both sides, from what I’ve read, in order to sway public opinion), no one has the right to take the life of any creature for ANY reason, least of all for sheer sport and the perverse gratification of taking its head as a ‘trophy’. Attempts to justify this by saying it helps conservation efforts would be laughable in their inherent illogicality if this were not such a tragedy. Auctioning the life of an old rhinoceros bull, rather than allowing him to live out his life in peace, is simply beyond the pale of the most basic morality and respect for life. Yet humans do this with impunity because they can – because the animal is a helpless victim with no voice and no defence (the term ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ comes to mind). It is a ‘thing’ at the mercy of some economic calculation that decides it’s better off dead.

    The only ‘population control’ nature needs help with is mankind’s, as ours is the only species with out of control numbers that are destroying the planet. In this day and age, knowing all that we do, and especially knowing how severely endangered are the species that trophy hunters choose to mow down (it seems the rarer the more prized), there is no excuse for such barbarity or cruelty. Unfortunately there will always be dregs of humanity that have no respect or care for non-human
    animals and feel the need to kill them in cold blood; however it is disgraceful
    that the US government should actually condone such barbaric practices by
    allowing the victims of trophy hunts to be imported.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Brilliant comment.

    • Elliott Eugene Blake

      Any creature? Where do you draw the line? Cucumbers? Sponges? Crustaceans? Regardless of how you feel about human kind’s moral imperative, the rest of the natural world has no problem killing members of other, and often their own, species. Survival of the fittest is a bit overblown, but forgive me if I don’t scramble to become a vegan. Enjoy your righteous indignation.

      • Lori Sirianni

        It’s unfortunate that some people choose to have selective compassion. What is wrong with valuing and respecting all life? I’m as loathe to pick off a flower to watch it wilt, or kill a ladybug as I am to eat the carcass of a pig or see a critically endangered rhino gunned down. If you need to draw a line, maybe draw it at “do no harm”?

    • Lori Sirianni

      I agree; brilliant comment.

  • ElCarmino

    The whole concept seems incredibly backward…almost perverted. And the desire to shoot a rhino like this is downright sick.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      It is perverted!

  • Giovanni

    Killing off a black rhino for the mere thrill of it, we should hunt them down let’s see how that thrills them. Corey is a stone cold murderer with no brains, no heart, no spine and most of all no humanity, with too much time and money on his hands. I see no reason why this scumbag is even still alive. How is this even a debate on your radio show? Rhinos and all other endangered species need to be protected at all cost and if that means hunting down Corey and all other trophy hunter scumbags such as Ivan Carter, so be it. One dead trophy hunter a day will make mother nature stay.

  • Kawartha

    Answer to most of these questions are provided in this article. I have been researching the Black Rhino auction/culling etc for a couple of months. Please read it as it shows all areas that are to blame and what we need to do to fix this problem

    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1077645

  • Yakob Ay

    Would like to know whether the existing black rhino population of Namibia were bred in Namibia or have they been importing rhinos from other parts of Africa like South Africa during the past 10 yrs?

  • There is no justification of any kind that can be attributed to bringing cruelty and wanton death to non-human life. We are simply a form of life on a planet with many other forms of life; we are not superior and in fact when it comes to meeting of such cruelty and torture we are grossly inferior. All hunting for “sport” should be abolished forthwith, it is more critical I know when a species is endangered but that does not make other forms of “sport” hunting acceptable.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Thank you Mike.

  • Pamela Freeman

    The entire concept of auctioning off a living, critically endangered animal for “sport” and trophy hunting is perhaps one of the most heinous concepts put forward as a way to raise funds for the Namibian government. I am totally against this action. Putting the morality of the planned death of this rhino aside, there are many other reasons to find other ways to raise this money.

    Firstly, rhinos, along with other large species animals like elephants, are cornerstone species in the African ecosystem. Many, many other plants and animals depend upon their grazing and their dung production for their ability to survive, propagate, feed and graze themselves. In turn, these lower tier animals and plants affect the environment. It is a finely honed environment control system that has been created over the ages – all dependent upon these cornerstone species.

    Secondly, the SAME rhino would generate FAR MORE revenue in eco-tourism over
    his lifespan if he is left to live out his days in peace and safety.

    Thirdly, claims have been made that he is an “old” rhino, no longer breeding, and in fact preventing other younger males from breeding, but this argument makes no sense. Rhinos are solitary animals, each within their own territory, so how this male can impact breeding from other males is a non-sensical argument. At one time, there were many, many thousands of rhinos in this same area – would that population count have been possible if “old” males had prevented young males from breeding?

    Fourth: The precedent that is being set with this auction is a very, very dangerous one that will give carte blanche to other organizations around the world to try the same thing, and Namibia will readily comply because it’s government does not hold the best interests of the animals at heart. Remember, Namibia is the same government that gave many, many wild animals to Cuba. The animals that were gifted to Cuba were wild animals were taken out of their natural habitat and put into
    captivity in Cuba, where conditions are sub-standard and various animal protection groups have attempted to bring legal action to stop the abuse and neglect. So…Namibia may claim the auction funds are going to conservation, but in reality, it could very well be going into the pockets of corrupt Namibian officials.

    Fifth: This auction in no way furthers the cause of educating the sino-Asian markets driving the demand for rhino horn about the stupidity of myths regarding rhino horn.

    And lastly, we get back to the morality of this entire situation. It is inconceivable that we humans think we have the right to kill an endangered animal like this. And if there is money to kill, there is most definitely money to protect and conserve. Using the excuse of “the money is going to conservation” is just that – a lame and immoral excuse for killing an animal that has survived against all odds into “old age”. What
    right does anyone have to kill this animal? Just because it is legal and sanctioned by Namibia, the US and CITES does not mean this is right to do. Legal does not equal moral or right.

    Any person or organization involved with entire disgusting matter will have blood on their hands, and as an American I am ashamed to my very core that a US organization and the US government could be complicit in this.

    And finally, to the “hunter” who won this auction, I would put to you, Sir, that you have opened Pandora’s Box if you go thru’ with this kill. This kill will bring the worst sort of karma into your life – you will never live this down and the evil of your actions will follow you for the rest of your life. I implore you to rethink – if you really, really want to
    contribute to conservation efforts for the rhino, then tear the license up…pick up your camera, take a few friends and their cameras and go enjoy and cherish this magnificent animal as he is meant to be – living wild and free to end of his natural days. Is that not what you would wish for yourself if this was you?

    • Kawartha

      If you have read my article, please do as it answers alot of these questions. It is a long read but important information coming directly from a rhino vet in South Africa. We need to understand all the various points that are involved in the issue if we are ever going to fix it. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1077645

    • Tamara Birdsall

      Thank you Pamela. Yes, the Dallas Safari Club’s practices are heinous.

    • Lori Sirianni

      Pamela ~ brilliant. Just brilliant. Your reasoning and logic, facts,moral argument, and your writing.

    • Stephanie Abrams Blair

      Very well said Pamela! thank you

  • Tamara Birdsall

    It appears that funding wildlife programs in Namibia (as well as South Africa) is the sole (nominal?) justification offered by African nations in offering TROPHY HUNTS featuring critically endangered animals to hunters in the USA and elsewhere.

    The assertion that “science” calls for the removal of the “older” male rhino is debatable and appears to be based on fuzzy “logic”. Several sanctuaries have offered to host the “problem rhino”; however that option appears to be off the table because it does not bring in the revenue that killing an endangered species on the brink of extinction does.

    As for funding: Funding for extended wildlife reserves, wildlife corridors, funding to mitigate human-animal-conflict, funding to increase revenues through eco-tourism engaging local communities and funding for aggressive action to mitigate and eradicate and poaching; very little of any of the above appears to be in place -effectively- in South Africa where a rhino is poached once every 9-11 hours; the situation in Namibia appears more nuanced, though several reports suggest that Namibian conservation practices, albeit more credible than their counterparts in South Africa – are still questionable.

    Killing a species to conserve it is a grotesque aberration of the best in our species, it demoralizes our species and demeans our character through a violent act, at the risk of employing a controversial analogy, surely we do not sacrifice the life of one child to abuse, to justify the garnering of funds from the exercise – to donate to -say- the child protection services?

    We must ask ourselves why we don’t and that must lead us to the ethical and moral equations which govern our relationship to the earth and all its creatures. What are our values and how do we proceed into the future with an intact and coherent conservation ethic devoid of dissonance?

    The non-human animal is not “owned” by us, it has a life of its own and a body and flesh of its own. When Darwin gave the the world “natural selection, he didn’t factor high powered rifles, telescoping lenses, bullets and trophies on walls. Trophy hunting is a violent practice and an anachronism whose shelf life is long passed.

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      Thank you.

  • Elliott

    In 2009 I traveled to South Africa on an ecology education tour where we learned how the permited hunting of the white rhino brought the species back from the brink of extinction. The black rhino has remained endanged because of limitations on such control hunting. If you want to hire guards to patrol and protect reserves against poachers with machine guns it requires a steady source of income and permited hunting has provided this. Just look at the white rhino.

  • Another Mike

    Let the wildlife department take sperm samples, if his genetic material is valuable.

    If the money from this hunt goes to prevent poaching, it’s a win.

    Perhaps the listeners could each contribute $1000 to prevent poaching.

  • Alex Matsumoto

    Wouldn’t it be more prudent if hey just wait for the animal to die of natural causes then sell the parts? Is the rhino worth more if shot vs let to die? Seems this solves all issues.

    • Another Mike

      Is your diet made up of animals who died of natural causes?

      Federal law generally prohibits the sale of “4-D” cattle: cattle that are dead, dying, disabled, or diseased.

  • Danielle McAlister

    “The greatest joy of nature is the absence of man.”-Bliss Carman

    • Another Mike

      Man is part of nature.

      • Lori Sirianni

        But as Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick said, we’ve “stepped out of nature”. Look at most of us, in our concrete jungles, suburban homes, sitting in our cars in traffic jams… how many of us in our daily lives actually live in, or even think about, nature? How often do we venture out and marvel at all the animals who pollinate our world, grow forests, populate our oceans, control our climate, and whom we are actually dependent upon for our own survival? Most people don’t – they’re too busy watching a football game or reality show and thinking their grandchildren will magically inherit a habitable world. They won’t, if we don’t start paying attention.

  • Barbara

    Killing is NOT Conservation!!
    Whoever came up with the nonsense that this is conservation is either the hunter or the ones collecting the money! There are about 5000 black rhino’s left, what next…all the elephants? Oh wait, the poachers are already doing that. At some point, the nation needs to step up and protect these animals, this planet.
    There is no justification for this! Everything out of their mouths is just PR cause they know we’re watching closely now. This is a tragedy.
    We’re not a bunch of bleeding heart animal activist, we are their voice. Why? Because they simply can’t out run a gun.
    I don’t wish the hunters death, I wish the animals had the guns and the hunters had to run for their lives…would they understand then? Let’s auction off one of the hunters…I mean why not? He’s getting old, then stuff and mount him.

  • Danielle McAlister

    “When a man wantonly destroys a work of man we call him a vandal; when a man destroys one work of God , we call him a sportsman.” -Joseph Wood Krutch. ????

  • Michelle Hayward

    Killing is NEVER concervation. It is AWAYS murder & greed

  • Christa Witvrouwen

    from Dr. Ian Redmond, a world-renowned and respected conservationist and
    biologist, “An old male self-evidently has a good immune system and may
    carry the genes giving immunity to the next epidemic which might kill
    some apparently stronger young males. In such circumstances an older
    male might resume breeding and pass on those important genes.” There is no justification for killing the rhino, the only excuse for DSC is to hang his head as a trophy on the wall and it’s very doubtable that the 350.000 $ goes into so-called ‘conservation’ it will most likely go into the pockets of the outfitter that provides the rhino.. Trophy-hunting of an endangered animal is wrong on every level, .

    • Neytiri Tskaha

      thank you.

    • Stephanie Abrams Blair

      Thank you Christa – again it proves that the “justifications” used by the DSC are just false

  • LAC

    This is so wrong on many levels- but mostly morally and ethically. I don’t know which is worse- this rich man paying 350,000 to kill a defenseless living creature or the government of Namibia for permitting this killing and accepting money from the highest bidder. There is corruption and then there is evil corruption. Who has given “HUMANS” the right to decide whether to kill, enslave and capture other living creatures? Killing for fun- is the lowest you can ever go as a HUMAN!

  • Margrit Harris

    The concept of killing rhino A to save rhino B doesn’t make sense to me. If a person has money why not donate it. After all, do we ‘hunt’ a homeless person so that we can support homeless shelters? No we simply give our gift, no strings attached.

    • Another Mike

      The State Department of Fish and Wildlife is largely funded by license fees. If you want to help wildlife, simply buy hunting and fishing licenses each year, but refrain from hunting or fishing.

  • Neytiri Tskaha

    Thank you to Ms Thuy Vu for a well conducted albeit short segment on a critically important issue. Informative and makes the case for no-kill conservation pretty well.

  • OneMoreGeneration

    It amazes me to hear Ben Carter spew such inconsistencies. IFAW, Born Free and many other international organizations disagree with his statements. He quickly puts everyone in a bracket as anti-hunters and discredits their views. When our two young founders traveled to Dallas to speak with him about the issue, he turned and ran and immediately had security keep us out of the convention area.

    His comments about opposition groups not contributing to funds to save species is blatantly wrong and yet another attempt to sidestep the issue. The issue is that we can no longer apply old animal conservation methods when dealing with a critically endangered species. Bottom line.

    As one FB fan posted, allowing the the trophy hunting community control animal conservation is like having a petafile teach our kids sex education. They have a hidden agenda and will do and say anything they want to justify their involvement.

  • OneMoreGeneration

    Can you connect us with Tawanda Kanhema? We are working on finalizing our documentary on the issue and we would love to speak with him.

    Thanks,

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