WASHINGTON—Two days before World Rhino Day, in a disgraceful action that disregards the precarious status of a critically endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has granted approval for the importation of a black rhino hunting trophy into the United States from Namibia, where rhino poaching has dramatically increased in recent years. The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund call on the agency to rescind its approval and deny any other trophy import permits to hunters seeking to import their kills of the world’s last remaining black rhinos.
“It is shocking that the Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to issue a permit when rhino poaching in Namibia has skyrocketed from zero in 2006 to 90 rhinos killed in 2015. The agency should not endorse the killing of a critically endangered species to cater to a wealthy few,” said Iris Ho, senior specialist for wildlife programs and policy at Humane Society International. “The rise of rhino poaching in Namibia shatters the claim that trophy hunting benefits conservation. The United States shouldn’t indulge such pay-to-slay schemes by trophy hunters in search of gruesome prizes to take home. We call on the Fish and Wildlife Service to rescind this permit.”
- Two trophy hunting organizations, the Dallas Safari Club Foundation and Conservation Force, auctioned off the killing of the rhino in December 2016 for $275,000. The hunt took place on Feb. 26, 2017, at the Veronica Game Lodge in Namibia. Conservation Force filed the import permit application on behalf of the billionaire hunter on April 12, 2017, and the USFWS opened a 30-day public comment period on Jan. 4, 2018.
- Under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to import endangered species unless such action is determined to enhance the propagation or survival of the species or for scientific purposes. Given the increasingly precarious status of black rhinos and the fact that trophy hunting itself constitutes a threat to the species, this vanity import fails to meet that standard.
- Fewer than 5,500 wild black rhinos are left in the world, with just 1,946 in Namibia. Poaching of black rhinos and white rhinos there jumped from zero in 2006 to 30 in 2014 and then tripled to 90 just one year later. The vast majority of rhinos poached in Namibia between 2014 and 2016 were black rhinos. According to the IUCN Species Survival Commission African and Asian Rhino Specialist Groups and TRAFFIC, “The geographical shift in poaching to Namibia over the last two years is worrying. (PDF)”