An auction conducted by the Dallas Safari Club has raised $350,000 for rhino conservation efforts in Namibia — though the winner will be allowed to shoot one black rhino — a move decried by animal rights groups and environmental groups across the globe.
The proceeds will go into a special fund used by the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism for anti-poaching patrols, habitat protection, research and other measures crucial for protecting populations of endangered black rhinos, officials said.
The auction was for a hunting permit in Namibia’s Mangetti National Park. The name of the buyer was not disclosed.
Officials from the Humane Society and the International Fund for Animal Welfare have said that while culling can be appropriate in some animal populations, endangered black rhinos should be protected.
An estimated 4,000 black rhinos remain in the wild, down from 70,000 in the 1960s. Nearly 1,800 are in Namibia, according to the Safari Club.
Science shows that selective hunting helps rhino populations grow, according to a Safari Club news release. Removing old, post-breeding bulls, which are territorial, aggressive and often kill younger, breeding bulls, cows and even calves, increases survival and productivity in a herd. With hunting as part of its conservation program, Namibia’s rhino population is growing as much as 5 percent annually, according to the release.
The nation offers five permits each year, and the one auctioned Saturday was the first to be made available for purchase outside Namibia. The previous high was $223,000, according to the release. To ensure the correct type of animal is taken, Namibian wildlife officials will accompany the hunter. If the hunt is successful, meat from the animal will feed a nearby community.