The Austin Chronicle

The Hightower Report: Rabbits, Endangered Rhinos, and the Dallas Safari Club

November 15, 2013, News

Have you ever heard of the rabbit hunter's nightmare? A guy dreams that he and a few of his buddies have fanned out across some brushland to scare up and shoot a few hares. They kill a couple, but then one of the hunting buddies who'd headed down a slope into a thicket on the right suddenly comes bolting up the slope, all wild-eyed and screaming at the others: "Run, run – the rabbits have guns!"

I thought of this recalibration of the hunting equation when I read that an outfit called the Dallas Safari Club had come up with a truly novel idea for saving Namibia's rare black rhinoceros, which is teetering on the edge of extinction. Several hundred thousand of these unique animals existed a century ago, but only 1,800 remain in the African nation today.

So, thinking waaaay outside the box, the safari club says it will contribute to the black rhino conservation cause by auctioning off to one of the club's lucky members the chance to (WARNING: The following could make your head explode.) go to Namibia with a really big gun and shoot one of the magnificent, endangered creatures dead. Yes, to save the black rhino, kill it.

The safari club's chieftain says that both the Namibian government and our own U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have okayed the kill. He claims that safari enthusiasts will bid as much as a million bucks to be the one to pull the trigger. And, yes the head of the deceased will be severed, stuffed, mounted, and shipped back to the U.S. as a trophy for the shooter's den. To the club's credit, every dime from the auction will go to – oh, the irony – Namibia's Black Rhino Conservation Fund.

Back to the rabbit scenario, wouldn't the club's big game safari be fairer if high-powered guns were barred, and the winning bidder had to try executing the rhino with a Swiss Army knife?

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