Rhinos under siege? It should be poachers and their customers under siege!


In the same week that a summit is held in Skukuza, South Africa about rhino poaching, the Dallas Safari Club issues a press release about its plans to auction a hunt for a black rhinoceros in January.

The hunt will take place in Namibia, which is home to some 1700 black rhinos.The DSC will sell the hunting permit during its annual convention and expo Jan 9 – 12 2014.

Again, a comedian has weighed in. This time it was Stephen Colbert. The black rhino is a species listed as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. So how do we plan to save them? Hold an auction to shoot one. Harharhar.

It’s rather like fornicating to encourage virginity.

Rhinos are under siege. To-date this year, at least 793 rhinos have been poached in South Africa, including many reproductive or pre-reproductive females.

The Safari Club’s executive director says that it is a big, bold idea.

Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society isn’t that enchanted.

“Auctioning a rhino hunt at this time is tone deaf.” The idea of auctioning a rhino hunt at a time when the world is mobilizing to save the animals from mercenary poaching is wrong. The proceeds, we are assured, will go towards preserving this magnificent and critically endangered species.

The International Rhino Foundation does not condone the hunt, but recognizes that it is legal under Namibian and United States law, and under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora  (CITES).

“We note that the fate of one hunted rhino pales in comparison to the nearly 800 rhinos lost to illegal poaching in South Africa alone this year and to escalating poaching losses in Namibia and other countries where rhinos once thrived but now are barely hanging on.”
A few weeks ago Nicholas Taitz of the Daily Maverick wrote this analogy:

 If I were to establish a shelter for ten thousand homeless people, on the condition that two or three of them every year would have to be hunted for sport, but that for every one person shot per year another thousand would be given shelter at the homeless shelter, would this be a morally acceptable arrangement? It is true that my arrangement would give shelter to thousands of people, whilst only two or three people a year would be killed in order to support this endeavour. It is clear that whilst such an endeavour may be justified on purely utilitarian grounds, it can never be said that such an argument shows the moral praiseworthiness of such conduct. On the contrary, it illustrates that the greater good for the greater number does not always equal what is moral or right.

I am afraid, once again, I will arouse the ire of pro-hunters. I will probably arouse the ire of those who advocate a policy of harvesting rhino horns.

Again, I must ask you what fun is there in killing an animal that is endangered.

A rhino is hardly a swiftly moving target. It is short-sighted and ungainly.

What skill is involved in this hunt? You are not going to eat the meat or wear the skin. Your evil desire to kill has just been dressed up in a safari suit.

I have two questions:

1. Why do people not admit that wanting to kill – for whatever reason – is morally repugnant?
2. Why is there not censure against those nations who persist in using rhino horn?

Some traditions are nothing if not pernicious. Adult circumcision, female circumcision and – Traditional Chinese Medicine.

I’m all for tradition. But come on China. You’re competing in the space race. You boast that your navy is superior to that of the American ships.

But you subscribe to Traditional Chinese Medicine! You believe that the rhino horn, which is shaved or ground into a powder and dissolved in boiling water, is used to treat fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders? According to the 16th century Chinese pharmacist Li Shi Chen, the horn could also cure snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, carbuncles, vomiting, food poisoning, and “devil possession.”

Really? Haven’t your notions of medicine progressed beyond toads and newts – and rhino horn?

Let’s name and shame. (That’s the way I am rolling these days.) Asian millionaires are notorious for their conspicuous consumption of rare and exotic wildlife. Actually, the Chinese – sorry to generalize – seem to believe that animals – well, all living things really – exist primarily for exploitation and eating.

Rhino horn is for ”curing whatever ails you.”

Those who are selling it as an aphrodisiac have driven the price of rhino horn to more than $100,000 per kilo. The popularity for rhinoceros horn as an aphrodisiac in Europe stems from a concept known as the “doctrine of signatures,” articulated in the seventeenth century by herbalist Jacob Boehme in his book “Signatura Rerum” or “The Signature of All Things.”

The doctrine of signatures states that an herb or other object resembles the thing it is used to treat. The doctrine of signatures is, in other words, a form of sympathetic magic, in which like affects like. Thus, yellow flowers are used to treat urinary complaints, hand-shaped roots are used to treat the extremities, and rhinoceros horn, which resembles a penis, is used to excite the libido.

In fact, rhino horn, like a fingernail, is primarily composed of keratin.

Anyone know if ground fingernails has worked as an aphrodisiac?

Wealthy Taiwanese, aware that prices will rise even higher as rhinoceros numbers decline, are buying it as an investment. The high-stakes black market trade in rhino horn has been linked to international terrorism, specifically to the recent mall attack in Nairobi.
In July, US President Obama signed an executive order to combat wildlife trafficking, recognizing illegal wildlife trafficking as an escalating international crisis and establishing a task force to deal with the issue.

Probably rhino horn doesn’t serve any medicinal purpose whatsoever but it is testimony to the power of tradition that millions of people believe that it does.

If people want to believe in prayer, acupuncture or voodoo as a cure for what ails them, there is no reason why they shouldn’t. But if animals are being killed to provide nostrums that have been shown to be useless, then there is a very good reason to curtail the use of rhino horn. The world’s rhinos are being eliminated from the face of the earth in the name of medications that probably don’t work.
But back to the Safari Club hunts.

There is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Carter says that the winner of the auction isn’t obligated to hunt or kill the rhino.

“If there’s a conservation group that’s not pro-hunting, they could buy that permit, and the animal wouldn’t be hunted
I can’t help feeling that he is saying that with smugness. He knows that those who wish to kill have more money than those who don’t.”

Anyone going to start the petition to raise the money to save a rhino and send a message to the world?


Written on the day that Mandela died