Conservation Gone Awry?
Changing gears and moving away from questions about the effectiveness of supplements, we’re going to talk about the politics of animal rights, specifically, where conservation efforts fall into extremely grey territory and become counterproductive. Case in point: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raised over half a million dollars for planned hunts in South Africa, all for the sake of “conservation.”
The problem that should be raising eyebrows, even amongst those indifferent to animal rights, is that one of these hunts is for a black rhino, an animal that is not only endangered, but extremely illegal to hunt under almost any circumstances. To give readers an idea of how abnormal this situation is, CNN’s headline regarding the state of affairs for the white rhino is as follows: “With 1 male left worldwide, northern white rhinos under guard day and night.” Those not familiar with how endangered species are handled (in their habitat with regard to protection), it’s quite straightforward: Armed guards around the clock – poaching is extremely illegal and will result in serious prison time (or, to re-emphasize: “armed guards” – meaning a poacher is often risking life and limb). However, the highest bidder, Corey Knowlton, was able to circumvent all of this last year, because “the older males are killing each other, and something has to be done about it” (and because he has several hundred-thousand dollars to spend on a hunt).
The Humane Society of the United States had this to say about the situation: “When the global community is working so hard to stop people from killing rhinos for their horns, we are giving a stamp of approval to a special class of privileged elite to kill these majestic animals as a head-hunting exercise.”
The black rhino is a critically endangered species with a population of 4,848 worldwide. “The Dallas Safari Club, which held the auction in January 2014 for the license to hunt the rhino…said the hunt will help in managing the rhino population and provide an underfunded Namibian government cash in the battle to thwart poachers.” There certainly may be more to the situation than is obviously apparent, and many animals rights groups take offense to the notion that Mr. Knowlton “will be able to bring home a trophy” – but I contest that this is more than an animals rights situation, as it doesn’t just involve an absurd big game hunt in Africa, it’s a matter of elitism: A hunt that would normally result in prison or death to the poacher is no longer a “poach” for animals goods (e.g. the rhino’s coveted horn), but a “hunt…for conservation.” This is the same argument used by hunters in the states as they thin out deer populations as human expansion continues to deprive them of their natural habitat (and in turn, their resources), but this time, it’s a critically endangered species that contends with its own localized poachers.
To put it simply, but perhaps not so eloquently: Rich westerners don’t need to play an additional unnecessary role in cutting down another African species on the brink of extinction under the guise of “conservation” (or in more appropriate terms: throwing money at a problem and pretending the results are guaranteed).
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/af/Ngorongoro_Spitzmaulnashorn_edit1.jpg