Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Killing is Conservation. War is Peace.

We remember our doublethink and doublespeak from 1984, yes children?

(if not, go read it. It's a very brief book, and very important. It's been important since it was published in 1950, it was important when 1984 itself came and left, and it's important now, with our growing panopticon. )

So what am I up in arms about this time?

 (Black rhino in the Saint Louis zoo)

Oh, nothing, just the auction of a permit to hunt a critically endangered species. "For conservation". Meaning, the proceeds of the auction would go to, one would suppose, future conservation. As killing one of the few remaining Black Rhinos would not, in fact, fall under that umbrella. Indeed, because of the nature of the permit auction, it would seem the dead animal would even be importable as a trophy. Let's not forget that the Western Black Rhino is, in fact, extinct. This isn't one of them, obviously.

Theoretically, killing a single older male in a herd could open up reproductive rights for younger males, which could encourage genetic diversity. That's what the International Union for the Conservation of Nature says, anyway. Considering the permit is for a specific bull who is no longer fertile and could in fact be limiting reproduction in the herd, this might not be far off. But I think it's counterintuitive.

Of course, I don't have a better solution for said patriarch. I don't know anything about rhinos, or not much anyway, that they're near sighted and prone to charging at nearby movement. This Guardian article said he was "likely to be targeted for removal anyway because [he] was aggressive and threatening other wildlife". All right, so if they were going to kill him anyway, why not put his life on auction and see how high it'll go? $350,000 in this particular instance. Other hunting packages cost fewer for many more trophies, depending on the organization you go through. I mean, geeze, has a no kill no pay 10 day Trophy Lion Safari for only $25,000, or an Elephant for just $20,500, both in Zimbabwe.

Oh, and if you don't want to bother with pesky things like passports and malaria pills, there's also the canned hunt option. Or there was at one time: this particular HSUS link is hosted via the Wayback Machine (though this HuffPost article from 2009 has no qualms with linking to its original URL, 404 and all).

So okay, it sounds really stupid. But it could be all right. It could be Mr. Rhino was doomed to die anyway, at the hands of his guardians, no less. There's something poignant and human about that, an aged patriarch blind to the fact that he's hindering the future generations by refusing to step down, and having to be assassinated by outside forces. It's a story that's been told, I'm sure. There's something rather like Hamlet in it, depending on the delivery (and The Lion King is Hamlet, for that further connection).

I guess the further irony would be if the winner of the permit doesn't kill the rhino after all.


  1. I'm with you on this. It's outrageous!

    1. I really think the aim of conservation is to do as little harm as possible. And, y'know, possibly help. It's possible I don't know enough, and a thing like this CAN actually be helpful. But geeze.

  2. Even if this particular rhino needs to be culled, why stir up a feeding frenzy of the very hunting instinct that endangered so many species?

    1. It is, in my eyes, tremendously counterintuitive. That, and though they did not originally release it, the lottery winner's name got announced or leaked somehow and now the guy has received death threats. Which isn't the right way to go either. Sigh.