Black rhino hunt permit auctioned

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Black Rhino. Taken in Serengeti National Park, Kenya.Image lightbox:

The Dallas Safari Club in Texas has auctioned off the chance to kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia. The auction raised £212,000 for the Namibian government, which says it will be earmarked for conservation.

So is this a great way of raising money for the protection of the species, or is it creating a spectacle of killing endangered animals?

Protection

According to the BBC, the Club argued that it's an older non-breeding male, which has become aggressive and poses a danger to younger rhinos. The government usually issues three hunting permits for this sort of thing every year - it's just that this is the first auction outside the country.

The reason the government went to the US to sell the licence was to ensure they raised as much money for conservation in the process. By choosing to sell the licence to shoot rather than sell the rhino to a zoo they will certainly make much more money. According to savetherhino.org, an auction of live male rhinos only fetched an average price of $21,130.

Outrage

Campaigners counter-argue that it doesn't matter whether this animal needs to be killed: it's making entertainment from the death of an endangered animal. The rhino is just one of fewer than 5,000 black rhinos that remain, and Sky News has reported that the move has drawn an enormous amount of criticism. Around 70,000 people signed an online petition which was calling for the auction to be cancelled.

Exotic hunting of all sorts is in big demand, but draws huge criticism. At the end of last year TV personality Melissa Bachman was verbally attacked after putting a photograph of herself next to the lion that she had shot on social media.

Likewise Full Metal Jacket actor R.Lee Ermey has been pictured this year with a lion he shot, and millionaire banker Sir David Scholey hit the headlines for the same reason in 2011. Each one has faced a barrage of insults.

There was also an outcry at the end of last year when a US hunting show featured the presenter shooting an elephant in the head and then celebrating with champagne. The show was subsequently cancelled.

The hunters argue that it's no different to the deer and grouse hunting that goes on in the UK, which rarely causes a reaction, and that we're just over-sensitive about exotic animals.

But what do you think?