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In the hunting circles, especially the African hunting circles, the ultimate goal is to take the "Big 5." The Big 5 consists of Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, and Rhino. These are storied beasts, steeped in legend, and all dangerous to hunt regardless of weapon used. Leopard and Cape Buffalo are reasonable price-wise to harvest. Lion and Elephant are expensive, particularly trophy males. Rhino are in a whole different class, usually in the six figure range.
Yes, Rhino numbers are drastically down from historic levels. There are two different types of rhinos in Africa, the White Rhino and the Black Rhino. The White Rhino is the more affordable and more available option, with only a few Black Rhino harvested each year (prices in the high six figures.) So why hunt rhinos? The answer is surprisingly simple, and quite logical.
Rhinos are poached in large numbers because their horns are believed to have aphrodisiac powers, specifically in Asia. Africa is a very poor continent. People are literally starving there, especially in the more wild areas where rhinos are found. Poaching one rhino and selling its horn on the black market represents an amazing opportunity to better one's life and feed one's family. It is hard to blame the natives for poaching the rhinos when we take the time to look at the conditions in which they live. As such, every rhino that can be found gets poached. The natives are responsible for the decline in rhino numbers, not the white hunters such as the one in the picture.
How can this issue be resolved? Yes, there are game scouts and patrollers, but the African bush is very vast and the motivation to poach high. This is not a viable solution. The answer is to make the rhinos more valuable alive than dead. By allowing a limited number of white hunters to come in and legally take a rhino for six figures, and have a large portion of this money go to the local people, all of a sudden the natives become the best friends of the rhinos. Their number one goal has now changed to making sure that every rhino is protected and revered. They want there to be enough rhinos around that the government will allot a few tags to white hunters. The absolutely enormous financial infusion that stems from the legal harvest of one white rhino is worth so much more than hawking a few horns on the black market. The same has been done with elephants, tremendously successfully. Money talks, here in the US, and in Africa.
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Among the two different types of rhinos in Africa, the black rhino and the white rhino, the white rhino is known as the "dumb" rhino. They are oafish and quite stupid, presenting little sporting opportunity. Black rhino are another matter altogether, and thus have a different stigma attached to them. Roark, Roosevelt, Hemingway, Capstick and other authors have penned many tales about the pursuit of the black rhino. As such, the black rhino is a treasured and dreamed-of trophy by many blue-blood trophy hunters who have the financial means to pursue this rare opportunity.
Black rhinos are carefully managed (although not immune to the threat of poaching). The reserve on which this tremendously controversial rhino is to be hunted is carefully managed. Each rhino is individually known and monitored. The one selected for this auction is an old male rhino. He is no longer able to breed, thus representing no use to the propagation of the species. He is in declining health and will die shortly of natural causes with no monetary reward for the rhino population whatsoever. If he dies a few months short of his natural passing by the bullet of a rich white hunter, a not-so-small fortune will be directly put into black rhino conservation and protection.
This hunt is not for a random black rhino. It is for the specific male detailed above. Come to your senses and think logically. There is no way that this $500,000 - $1,000,000 will get into the hands of rhino conservation without sacrificing this one rhino a few months short of his natural death. He is useless to the current population. The rich white hunters who will be bidding on the right to harvest him are good people, but not so good as to see no physical return on their large sum of money. The overall rhino population loses basically nothing and gains a tremendous amount. There are no negatives here and quite literally a million positives.
The words above are all my own. I am somewhat of an expert on Africa hunting and especially on lion and rhino conservation. I'm happy to answer questions and will give reasonable, non-trolling responses to reasonable questions. I hope this helps educate you all a bit on this interesting issue.