Black Rhino Hunt: Conservation Controversy

One Black Rhino May Help Save All Of The Rest

One Black Rhino May Help Save All Of The Rest

How hunting a critically endangered black rhino will greatly benefit conservation of the species.

Last January the Dallas Safari Club (DSC), auctioned off a permit issued by the government of Namibia to hunt a black rhino. Namibia is legally permitted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to sell five permits for the hunting of adult male black rhinos each year. The Namibian government has identified a small number of individual black rhinos that may be hunted that are old, incapable of breeding and pose a threat to other younger animals.

A prominent hunter and conservationist, Corey Knowlton, submitted the winning bid of $350,000 at the auction and subsequently applied to FWS for a permit to import the trophy into the US. DSC plans to donate the entire proceeds of the auction to benefit conservation of the black rhino species (Diceros bicornis).

The debate over the value of a black rhino hunt that would raise $350,000 for rhino conservation efforts in Namibia has heated to the boiling point once again. The question of whether the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) will issue a permit to import a black rhino trophy into the US is at the forefront of this debate. Anti-hunting animal rights groups that vehemently oppose the hunt are using the power of their grass roots followers to pressure FWS to deny issue of the permit.

Reports from the Namibian government suggest that an older non-breeding male rhino that is disruptive to the herd, will be selected. It is important to note that this rhino will likely be culled regardless of whether FWS issues the import permit or not. If the permit is denied DSC plans to refund Mr. Knowlton’s winning $350,000 bid.  If that happens, the rhino’s life will not be saved, and the conservation efforts in Namibia will not receive the $350,000.

According to FWS spokesman Gavin Shire, FWS is ‘applying “extra scrutiny” to Knowlton’s request because of the rise in poaching.’ By all accounts, although there was a rise in the numbers of poached white rhinos in South Africa, the overall population of black rhinos has been on the rise for a number of years.

“Thanks to successful conservation and anti-poaching efforts, the total number of black rhinos has grown…” ~ World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Anti-hunting groups have long argued that hunting and poaching are indistinguishable. However, it is clear that this is a position driven by ideology. The reality is that hunting is legal and supports conservation. Poaching is a criminal activity that undermines conservation. What is unclear from the FWS statement, is how an unrelated rise in poaching arbitrarily dictates “extra scrutiny” toward the issuance of an import permit for a legal rhino hunt.

“Hunting isn’t conservation” ~ Jeffrey Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

Additionally, animal rights groups argue that money spent on hunting in Africa never reaches local communities or conservation, but according to a report from TRAFFIC, the organization that works with the WWF, IUCN, and CITES to track the international trade of wildlife, US hunters spend $11 million annually in Namibia on controlled, legal hunts. Further, if allowed by the US government, the $350,000 proceeds from this one single hunt would go exclusively to black rhino conservation in Namibia.

Those that are opposed to hunting are predisposed to object to any hunting based conservation model. Ideology aside, there is no doubt that millions of dollars are injected into the Namibian economy every year as the direct result of hunting. For FWS to deny issuing an import permit based on misinformation and pressure from special interests, would not only be a disservice to processing a legitimate permit application, but it would block $350,000 earmarked for black rhino conservation efforts.

“Sport hunting of Namibia’s black rhino population will strongly contribute to the enhancement of the survival of the species…” ~ World Wildlife Fund

Yesterday on the IFAW Facebook page, the animal rights organization was exhorting their followers to “Save One Black Rhino” by pressuring FWS to deny import permits. The fact remains that the rhino in question will likely be culled regardless of the decision of FWS. Wouldn’t it be better to allow Mr. Knowlton to hunt the rhino and import the trophy so that the auction money can go to rhino conservation? Preventing Mr. Knowlton’s hunt will accomplish only one thing:  it will prevent black rhino conservation in Namibia from receiving a $350,000 donation.  All real conservation happens at the species level. The survival of critically endangered black rhinos should not be held hostage to special interest politics.

Andrew Wyatt is a government affairs consultant that works exclusively in the wildlife sector.

WyattP2“Endangered species conservation and other wildlife issues are highly charged and contentious. I specialize in working with clients to employ campaign style tactics to change hearts and minds on vital issues in the wildlife sector. Please follow The Last Word for insight and analysis particular to the 21st century wildlife sector. If you would like to discuss the potential advantages of running a targeted issue campaign, and/or a comprehensive government affairs strategy, please call or email me.” ~ Andrew Wyatt

© Andrew Wyatt and The Last Word, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew Wyatt and The Last Word with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Animal Rights – Fundraising Wrongs ~ Part II

Pacelle Money

Morality and Ethics ~ The Ends Justify the Means
Animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Born Free USA, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), seek to  claim the “moral high ground” on behalf of animals. However, that “high ground” stands on a shaky foundation of exaggerations of the truth, intimidation of the opposition, and risky games of  legal hi-jinx with donor money. This approach to fundraising uses divisive tactics like PETA-porn to create a mob mentality around animal issues. Impassioned people are motivated to donate money, and manipulating facts and manufacturing evidence may help achieve fundraising goals if it can sufficiently outrage your donor base.

RICO Act Lawsuit and Witness Tampering
This Summer the sins of HSUS hit home with a real vengeance when HSUS, Born Free USA and other co-defendants agreed to pay $15.75 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed against them by Feld Entertainment under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. As a result, the charity watchdog group, Charity Navigator, revoked HSUS’ mediocre 3-star rating and issued a “Donor Advisory” warning. Charity Navigator issued the warning soon after news of the HSUS settlement made the news. The animal rights behemoth lost its insurance coverage in 2010 likely putting donors on the hook for HSUS’ legal misadventures. As a co-defendant in the RICO lawsuit, the ASPCA agreed to settle for $9.3 million in late 2012.

The RICO lawsuit was filed in response to a “frivolous” Endangered Species Act (ESA) suit filed against Feld 14 years ago by HSUS and company. Court documents revealed that, “In the original ESA lawsuit, Feld Entertainment discovered the animal rights groups and their lawyers had paid over $190,000 to a former circus employee, Tom Rider, to be a ‘paid plaintiff.’ The Court also found that the animal rights groups and their attorneys ‘sought to conceal the nature, extent and purpose of the payments’ during the litigation. Their abuse of the judicial system included the issuance of a false statement under oath by Rider, assisted by his counsel, who the Court found was ‘the same attorney who was paying him’ to participate in the litigation. The Court found in addition to Rider being a ‘paid plaintiff,’ that the lawsuit was ‘frivolous and vexatious.'”

Hate-Speak Attacks on Children


Kendall Jones ~ Facebook

Teenager Kendall Jones suffered an unrestrained attack via social media earlier this year. Jones, a 19 year old, American pie college student became the poster child for anti-hunting by organizations in the animal rights industry that labeled her as a “killer and a murderer.” Several months ago she posted pictures from a legal African safari in which she participated. The vitriolic response that followed included threats against her life. For a period of time, Facebook hosted a Kill Kendall Jones Page, which has now been removed.  (Initially, the site refused to remove the threatening page, saying it did not rise to the level of genuine risk or physical harm.)

“I hope she [Kendal Jones] is in the news when it is to report she has been murdered and the murderer is holding her up as a trophy. Good riddance to scum like her.” ~Fan Comment on Born Free USA Facebook Page

In an article published in the Huffington Post, Jeffery Flocken, North American Director of IFAW, castigated the teen in front of a national audience, and used the opportunity to call all hunters, “killers.” Hunting is increasing in popularity with women representing the fastest growing demographic.

Kendall is a “straight-laced” college cheerleader caught in the cross hairs of the animal rights industry to gin up moral outrage. The furor that HSUS, Born Free USA, IFAW and other anti-hunting advocates generated has resulted in threats of violence.

Last week an 11 year old boy and his family received death threats after the boy legally harvested an albino deer in Michigan.  Death threats against a child.

“Kill that f__king brat!” ~Ashley Adams, Facebook

“The little boy is being pilloried with hurtful language and even getting death threats…” ~Ruben Navarrette, CNN

Dog Fighters for Donation Dollars
In 2007 NFL quarterback Michael Vick was arrested as the kingpin of a vast dog fighting operation based out of southeast Virginia. Within 24 hours of the news breaking, HSUS rolled out a fundraising campaign inferring that HSUS was providing “care for the dogs seized.” Wayne Pacelle, HSUS CEO, later admitted to The New York Times that HSUS was not actually caring for the dogs.

Michael Vick and Wayne Pacelle team up in the wake of felony dog fighting conviction ~NBC News

Michael Vick and Wayne Pacelle team up in the wake of felony dog fighting conviction ~NBC News

After Vick’s release from his two-year prison sentence for the dog fighting conviction, Pacelle joined forces with the NFL quarterback and embarked on a public relations campaign to rehabilitate Vick’s image. Perhaps not coincidentally, HSUS received a $50,000 donation from the Philadelphia Eagles, Vick’s new team. The ideological contradictions in pursuit of donations were not lost on Pacelle’s usually adoring fans. Followers of HSUS refused to forgive Vick for torturing dogs and Pacelle was roundly criticized for his hypocrisy.

Everything to Everyone… And Ebola Too
Wading into the high profile issue of the illegal ivory trade, last year Pacelle was quoted as saying, “China is the world’s largest consumer of illegal ivory, and the U.S. is second…” This statement is patently false. The US is the second largest legal market NOT illegal; a major distinction (Martin and Stiles, 2008). According to the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, Thailand is far and away the second largest market for illegal ivory behind China/Hong Kong. The fact is, all of the Asian countries have larger illegal markets for ivory than the U.S.

“The illegal proportion of it [U.S. ivory trade], however, is much smaller than any country in Asia and most countries in Africa. The USA ivory market poses a minimal threat to elephants…” ~Martin and Stiles, 2008

Last week both HSUS and IFAW  launched fundraising campaigns playing on the Ebola scare, implying some involvement in the fight against the impacts of the deadly disease. In a classic “bait and switch” strategy, HSUS’ financial commitment to help animals in the midst of the Ebola crisis in West Africa is 0.007% of its annual budget, a whopping $12,000.  The publicity HSUS will drum up with its dramatic blog posts of sad looking chimpanzees in Ebola-stricken Africa will quite likely generate many times that amount in donations from well-intentioned people who want to help.  The vast majority of donation dollars to HSUS find their way to fat pensions and slick lobbyists, not suffering animals.

Are these really the types of activities in which groups calling themselves animal charities should involve themselves? Are HSUS and company really charities, or are they professional lobbyists? The reality of this sordid intrigue is that these animal rights organizations are actively misleading donors into charitable donations, then using the money, not to “protect” animals, but diverting funds to pension funds, legislation, litigation and propaganda campaigns to institutionalize their radical ideology. HSUS and their ilk want to shut down farmers, zoos, circuses and hunting. This is the controversial manner in which they raise the money to do it.

© Andrew Wyatt and The Last Word, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew Wyatt and The Last Word with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.