Earlier this week, one of the world's last rhinoceroses was killed in the name of saving the species -- at least that's what the hunter who took the shot wants you to think. Eighteen months ago, Corey Knowlton made international headlines when he purchased the "right" to hunt an endangered black rhino in Namibia. The Dallas Safari Club announced that it would be auctioning off the right to hunt the rhino and Mr. Knowlton sprang at the opportunity, spending $350,000 to win the auction.
The rhino is on the verge of complete extinction with only five thousand left in the world. Despite zero scientific proof, in certain parts of the world, rhino horn is believed to be a powerful medicine and can reach prices of up to $US 65,000 a kilogram on the black market, that's more than the price of gold, cocaine, and diamonds. As a result of this high demand for rhino horn, the rhino is facing extinction from poaching across Africa. In 2014 over 1,200 rhinos were poached; that's one every eight hours.
In the case of the Namibian sanctioned, Dallas Safari Club trophy hunt, the $350,000 Knowlton spent would be given to the Namibia Government to help conserve the remaining rhinoceroses in the country. Despite this claim, no detailed plan has been made public of how these funds will actually be used. They also claim that they killed a dominant male that was a threat to other rhinos. However, as scientists and conservation organizations have pointed out, removing a dominant male from the group can have unforeseen repercussions on the group as a whole.
Throughout the past year and a half both Knowlton and the Dallas Safari Club have claimed that they are killing this rhino to save the rhinos. They call themselves conservationists, and even went as far as saying that those who disagree with what they are doing do not care about the future of the species. Following the hunt Knowlton alluded to the outcry over his hunt as a great way to bring awareness to the seriousness of rhinos becoming extinct.
This mentality of "kill them to save them" is very dangerous with a species like the rhinoceros. Organized poachers are killing rhinos at an alarming rate because they place a higher value on a dead rhino than they do on one that is alive. What the Dallas Safari Club and Corey Knowlton did sends the exact same message; a dead rhino is worth more than an alive one.
With less than five thousand black rhinos left in the wild, we should be valuing each one and doing our best to keep them alive.
There is one less rhino in the world today and Knowlton killing it had nothing to do with conservation.
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CORRECTION: A previous version of this blog referred to Corey Knowlton as Chris.