The Trump administration has declared its credentials in allowing, through the US Federal Fish and Wildlife Service, the importation of the skin, skull and horns of a rare black rhino that an American trophy hunter shot at a cost of US$400,000.
Yes, it does take some stomach to read that huge figure. Chris Peyerk, 53, a construction boss from Michigan, paid a wildlife conservation programme $400,000 for the pleasure of killing a black rhino last year in Mangetti National Park in Namibia. Peyerk is a longtime trophy hunter and the president of his family’s construction company, Dan’s Excavating Inc..
The US Federal Fish and Wildlife Service has indicated that they will approve his application to import the body parts of this protected animal under the Endangered Species Act.
Mr Peyerk has not broken any laws which tells us that the laws are broken. What he’s doing has prompted criticism from animal rights campaigners. They regard the White House to be pro-hunting under the Trump administration.
“The Trump administration has dealt another blow to wildlife protection.” Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund, which lobbies for animal protection laws in the US.
Despite Mr Trump once calling trophy hunting a “horror show” his sons, Donald Jr and Eric Trump both enjoy trophy hunting and have made numerous trips to Africa to kill big game and to pose for photographs with the killed animals. The animals include leopard, buffalo and the tail of an elephant.
Trump’s government has weakened protection for endangered species by rolling back the Obama-era restrictions on importing endangered elephant and lion trophies from certain countries in Africa. The administration has also rolled back on hunting bear cubs, wolf pups and swimming caribou in Alaska’s national reserves.
It is worth noting that the current first interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, was an avid hunter and who received generous campaign contributions from the hunting lobby. No surprise then that hunting appears to be encouraged by the authorities in America.
Under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) black rhinos are classified as critically endangered. There are 5,500 remaining in the wild and almost half of those are in Namibia, Africa. The country is allowed to approve the killing of five male rhinos a year under an international convention.
Under the Endangered Species Act it is illegal to import the body parts of endangered species unless it can be shown that in doing so it will help the survival of the species. It has always mystified me how killing animals can help their survival although on countless occasions shooters do contrive to justify it by claiming that it improves conservation but this argument has consistently been counter argued also on countless occasions.
The particular subspecies that this American shot, the south-western black rhino, is apparently less endangered than other subspecies and is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN. The Namibian Ministry of environment and tourism will argue that the 29-year-old rhino bull that Peyerk shot was interfering with breeding by younger balls and harming population growth. They will also claim that the payment is earmarked for rhino conservation. Can we trust them?
“Legal well-regulated hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation.”-Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Humane Society tells us that the black rhino suffers from a surge in poaching in the past five years.
“Black rhinos must be off-limits to trophy hunters.”-Kitty Block president of the Humane Society.
Sources: The New York Times and The Times (hardcopy).
Note: This is about cats because the most hunted animals in Africa are probably the lion and leopard.