An American 'hunter' made the news big, very recently, because he 'hunted' an endangered black rhinoceros in Namibia ... paid big money for it. I watched a few interviews and scanned various newspapers. All the money is suppose to go back to conservation and the meat fed a poor African village. Soooo ... do I have a problem with this?
The answer is very short ... yes!! Why??
I have a massive problem with the word 'hunter.' Those who know me well, know that I do hunt and that I've hunted and tracked nearly everything in Southern Africa. I also worked with black and white rhinoceros ... protection, relocation etc.
For those of you who don't know, a rhino has incredibly weak eyesight ... a fairly good sense of hearing and a very good sense of smell. Many of the old hunters were photographed stalking sleeping rhinos, placing a hat on the horn. They made use of the rhino's weak defence system. Once a photo of me was taken, stabbing a standing black rhinoceros bull in the butt with the barrel of my rifle. A stupid calculated risk, because he was standing right next to a sandstone formation ... after the stab I jumped the sandstone like a monkey ... the rhino took off in a hurry.
What I'm trying to say is simple. There's no hunt in hunting a rhinoceros. They are big, they leave large tracks and they are territorial. I took small groups of tourists on 4-day walks, tracking both black and white rhinos ... it's the easiest thing to find them and bring people close enough with very bad cameras. With a scope a 9 year old can down one from a very close distance or from afar ... I'll never ever call it hunting.
Let's take it further. If I enter an area and I must locate a rhinoceros myself. I must find it's tracks, it's dung heaps, the places he sprays his urine. I just track him, stay down wind and then stalk in close enough. Can I call it hunting then? I'll say no, because it is still a very easy thing to do. The rhino has a very weak defence system, because for millions of years he never needed one. He's strong with a thick skin and even with the larger predators, he mostly wins the fight. The problem ... modern man. Even with primitive man, it is not easy taking a rhino with a bow or spear ... you'll be dancing with death. If you can, then I'll say you're a hunter!!!
If you are a modern man and you make use of African trackers and a so-called professional hunting guide ... to track and locate your rhino ... to point him out to you. All you do then is to get this massive passive animal into your sights and pull the trigger. Are you really a hunter?? I mean ... really ... do you get up in the morning and look in the mirror and say, 'Good morning big White Hunter? If you look at that trophy on the wall ... what do you say, what do you think?
In the written articles about this, they talked about the rest of the herd ... this old bull was very aggressive and hurt/killed calves and cows ... not able to reproduce. First, black rhinos are very solitary animals ... they are also browsers and prefer shrub-like environments. The only real bonding is between mother and calf ... and yes, they're famous for extremely bad tempers. Any rhino bull willing to put up a fight, can get his pecker up.
Do I have a problem with what has happened ... I mean with all the rest? No, I don't ... if someone wants to pay that amount of money to shoot and kill a rhino ... go for it!! If that money goes back into conservation and the meat to a 'poor' African village ... all good. Please, please ... don't insult me as a hunter ... or all the other hunters out there doing the right thing, and call this hunting. Call this what it is ... call this bloke a shooter ... a bloke that located an animal with very poor defence systems with the help of others and shot it for a lot of money ... to feed a village ... just don't call it hunting.
In some of the articles ... he said it's not like shooting a cow. I'm sorry mate, a cow has got better senses than that rhino and just like a cow ... that rhino was used to the presence of humans. It's not hunting and it'll never be ...
I'll continue this ... explaining the true heart of hunting ... and also the false one ...